I Was The Prettiest When I Was The Unhappiest

I have spent some time this past week amalgamating old photos on my Facebook feed. I have four laptops on the go currently, all filled with digital pics. And this of course does not include the many ancient photo albums – the real kind – also in my possession, also filled to the brim. And so, in the interest of simplifying my online existence, I have been sorting, sacrificing and saving.

It’s been an interesting journey to say the least. Looking back into my 20s, 30s and 40s I see “Vickie the Performer”, “Vickie the Mother” and “Vickie the Broadcaster”. There are a few more in there too (Lover, Daughter, Friend and Goofball) and I find all of these Vickies to be quite fascinating. Mostly because I realize that A) I did not peak in high school or my 20s – neither physically or professionally and B) when I did peak, at least physically, I was a pretty unhappy girl. I was pretty. And I was unhappy.

I was heartbroken, guilt-ridden, lonely, unfulfilled and confused.

But damn, did I ever look good! I was slim (hello Trauma Diet) and I was sexy and I was pretty. Hey, don’t take my word for it. A few days ago when I posted a slew of photos my old pal R said something like “Damn Vick, did you ever look good!”

Did.

He said “did.”

That “did” photo was from ten years ago. Man, can a lot ever change in 10 years.

I’ve gained weight, grown some gray hair, earned more wrinkles and somehow developed bags under my eyes. My face is fatter, my legs aren’t exactly show-stoppers anymore, my lips have disappeared and I have these weird brown spots, you know, like a human liver-spotted Dalmatian.

But guess what? I am no longer heartbroken, guilt-ridden, lonely, unfulfilled and confused. Okay maybe still a bit confused, and that is no doubt because I overthink everything and keep expecting that blinding flash of illumination to brighten my skies. For the record it hasn’t. But a reasonably bright glimmer has invaded my psyche and I am good with that. I am good with my journey and its present status. I am good with the life lessons I have endured and the wisdom I have incurred. (It’s all in my upcoming book, please buy it).

So why can’t I be the prettiest I’ve ever been now? Why can’t my outer package mirror my inner flowering? It’s not like there are 30 or 40 years between Current-Me and Prettiest-Me. Only 10. Ten measly fucking fairly content years, devoid of gut-wrenching despair and soul-searching torment. A decade still filled with examination and quest, yes.  Just not jam-packed with agony (and the occasional moment of ecstasy).

My guess is life just doesn’t work that way. We earn our silver hair and wrinkles. But we don’t just earn them. We progress toward them every day. An undeniable and unavoidable journey. Whether happy or sad, content or still striving, we get older. And out prettiest-me days fade further and further into memory.

Well, you know, except for social media, which is delighted to remind us daily of how we USED to look.

Fair enough. Here’s what it doesn’t remind us of. How we used to feel. I mean, unless you are one of those blessed serene souls who has waltzed through life with nary a scratch or a bruise, photos will only tell a two-dimensional story.

Here’s the other thing I learned this past week, looking at all those photos. I had this smile. This “ready-for-my-photo” smile. Closed lips, controlled, very fucking pretty. It’s the very smile that is on full display in that photo of R and me, the one where he said I “looked so good.”

I have no idea what happened to that smile. It doesn’t really exist anymore. I’m not really sure where it came from and I’m not really sure where it went. It sure made for a pretty picture. I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with me.

So here I am in this new phase of life. I suppose I could lose weight, Botox my face to the hilt, colour my own hair and wear makeup every day.

Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t.

What I WILL do is look back on that oh-so-pretty girl with fondness and nostalgia. A bit of melancholy when I remember her innate sadness. A bit of mirth at her Mona Lisa smile. A bit of envy of her killer legs.

A bit of relief that she matured into a cup-fully-full woman who is hopefully defined by the huge grin that envelops her face completely when she’s happy, fat cheeks and baggy eyes be damned.

When R posted his comment about how good I lookED, I was delighted that two of my gorgeous girlfriends replied, “SHE STILL DOES!” I know his remark was “innocent” and unintentionally hurtful. He is a good man with a huge heart and I know he meant no harm. I also acknowledge he may have been (inadvertently) uttering the truth.

The other thing I truly believe is that women get it. We get it and we support each other THROUGH it. Because IT is inevitable. We are so lucky to have come out the other side of our prettiest-ever days and still be in the game. Hopefully we now get to enjoy our contentest-ever days. Our realest-ever days. Our LUCKIEST-ever days.

Also I’d like to mention that I really like lobster mac and cheese and wine. And chocolate.

Thanks for listening.

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“When We Come Out Of This …”

How many times have you heard that phrase in the past two months?

Or perhaps “When this is all over …”

Or “When we finally get back to normal …”

We’re a funny lot, aren’t we? Always aiming for a finish line. An end-point. A conclusion. We are a race weirdly preoccupied with the race. (Hmmmm – coincidence?). We strive for closure. A solid outcome. A finale.

Kinda silly when you think about it, right? I mean the grand finale is death (or so we think). I don’t know many people who are in a big fat hurry to get there. And yet we spend so much of our lives waiting for the next thing.

“When I finally finish school …”

“When I get my own place …”

“When I get married and have my own family …”

“When I lose those 20 lbs …”

Oh, the list goes on and on. There is always an endgame that, when achieved, will bring the penultimate thing – whatever it is – that we crave.

But …  as good old Dr. Faustus (Christopher Marlowe, Elizabethan tragedy) learned (after he made a deal with the devil), as soon as we get what we crave we want something new. Something different. We require another finish line to strive for. It’s human nature.

So now here we are. Having survived (and sadly not all of us) the first stage of this pandemic, we are champing at the bit (and no that’s not a typo, it’s the original and true word) to GET BACK TO NORMAL. Suddenly NORMAL has become the mission. The destination. Normal is what we all now desperately crave.

Not me. I never much liked normal anyway and I’m pretty sure if you added up all the descriptors attributed to me over the years “normal” would be absent from the list. But I also truly believe that when BIG SHIT happens it is meant to be a wakeup call. The Universe is kicking our asses. Shaking us out of our doldrums. Forcing us to decide if “normal” (whatever that was) is really worth aspiring to. We are supposed to be utilizing this big fat intermission to contemplate our existence, evaluate our goals and just maybe redefine our endgames.

I have another idea. Let’s just cancel our endgames. Let’s stop being a society of achievers who must at all costs achieve. Let’s forget about getting back to normal and let’s set out to just be present in this next phase.

Covid Act II.

It ain’t over and we are not back to normal. We’ve just endured the first act. Now we move forward. Not towards another finish line. Just forward, step by step, day by day,  through LIFE.  Life as we currently know it. Life in ACT II.

Yes, oh yes, I am looking forward to getting some long overdue hugs. Cooking for my friends. Sitting around a bonfire and jamming with my musical pals. Hopping on a plane and exploring new lands. Going to HomeSense for two hours (is that just me?).

However … I will not sacrifice common sense, scientific knowledge or rationality to achieve those goals.

Oh shit. I just said “achieve”.

Allow me to rephrase – I have no endgame. Nothing to achieve. Okay, that’s not entirely correct. I’m publishing a book. I’m starting a YouTube channel. I’m planting a garden and I’m cooking dinner tonight. I have lots to do. But my life henceforth will never again be what it was. “Normal” is off the table. My life is now focused on living in this exact moment. Loving this exact moment. Being grateful for this exact moment, even if it is Covid Act II. Whatever Act III delivers (and geez, I hope I’m here to bear witness) I’ll deal with then. My new normal is exactly what the Universe wants me to experience. And if this new normal puts brakes on my plans and desires, so be it. It is totally up to me to figure out how to deal.

We’re not going back, my friends. We are going forward. Not towards some old, worn-out target. Towards this evening. This night. Tomorrow morning.

How lucky are we?

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Will You Suffer From Returnaphobia?

Yes I just made up that word. Because at present there is no word to describe the fear some of us may experience when the time comes to re-enter “normal life”. When the time comes to sit on a plane, or go shopping to the mall, or host a birthday party or go to a concert.

Sure I know there are many people who even now, against all advice, are soaking up the sun in Florida, attending jam-packed funerals in New York or secretly socializing beyond their bubble. All those protesters (I much prefer the term “Yahoos”) who are so desperate for “normal” they are willing to sacrifice a few old people or health workers or even children … well you can bet they won’t be suffering from Returnaphobia.

But what about those of us playing by the rules? Staying isolated, staying safe, keeping others safe. Will this new normal gradually become THE normal, to the point that even when it’s no longer required (or mandated) we still feel immense trepidation at the prospect of gathering together with our herd?

Back in my 40s I was felled with a ruptured appendix. I mean that quite literally – felled. Thanks to an inept emerg doctor I got sent home BEFORE it ruptured (with symptoms raging) only to return the following day (in an ambulance, where it actually did rupture) screaming my bloody head off. I was in hospital for a week, hopped up on morphine, antibiotic IV drip, open wound needing a painful cleaning every day and the worst roommate you could imagine (she was a fan, and I’ll tell ya, recovering from a ruptured appendix with a not-very-sick fan in the next bed is no fun).

I really wanted to go home.

And yet I kinda didn’t. Because in the hospital I was safe (after I changed rooms). I was tended to. I was given nice drugs and peach yogurt and daily walks and visits with family. I wasn’t afraid (even though there was huge infection raging in my abdomen) because I was safe. In the hospital.

When I got home I wasn’t safe anymore. I also didn’t have morphine anymore but that’s another story. When I got home I had to be a grownup and tend to all my health complications (there were many) and look after my 4 year old son so my husband could actually get back to work and think about my own job and nobody brought me peach yogurt. There were times I desperately wanted to be back with my nurse-buddies, all safe and looked-after.

And that is why I now think about Returnaphobia.

Yes, I miss my family and my friends and yes, I long for hugs and live conversation with more than one person and yes, it’ll soon be beach weather and yes, I miss having options. But I wonder how exactly the “return” will go? At this very moment I should have just got back from a Bahamas getaway with a close friend. This was a wee junket we were both SO looking forward to. It has now been postponed until next February. But what if I still have Returnaphobia? What if my fear of airports and planes and proximity to strangers outweighs my desire to spend a few days in the sun with my girl?

I guess a vaccine would be nice. And apparently the fine folks at Oxford U may have one by the fall. Or not. I’m just wondering how our mindset may change going forward. Especially for those of us nearing the “vulnerable age”. Will our spirit of adventure be diminished now that “danger” may lurk at every turn? Will we willingly forego former pleasures and pursuits because Returnaphobia has got the better of us?

I hope not.

I read a social media post the other day purporting (with numbers) that most of the folks contracting Covid and most of the folks dying from Covid are old and in retirement homes so really, let’s try to be safe but geez, let’s get back to normal. Something like that.

Maybe it’s my age? I’m not typically a woman governed by fear. I just think we all need a little more time “in the hospital” before we venture back to “normal”. We need a little more science, a little more space, a little more safety and a lot more sense.

If not, I truly fear that I will become a victim of Returnaphobia.

Who knows … maybe I already am?

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Tiny Pet Peeve Rant Alert … LOL

There are lots of big things to concern ourselves with these days. So this little thing truly means nothing. It’s just a little thing that has been bugging me for years so I thought heck, I’m writing about it.

LOL

That’s what my pet peeve is. LOL

I know it’s suppose to signify Laugh Out Loud in techy communication terms. Some folks think it means Laugh On Line. Certain (usually older) people still assume it means Lots of Love.

Whatever it means, I’m just not exactly sure why we use it. And why some correspondents use it ALL THE TIME. I mean we have emoticons (and lots of them) at our disposal. But more importantly we have the English language. This beautiful seemingly endless collection of descriptive and illustrative words that we can assemble any way we like to convey our message. And I guess the bottom line for me is this: if you are being funny, why are you announcing it? Why are you emphasizing it? Is it just in case I’m have an extra-blonde day and I don’t get it? Is it in case you’re not really sure if you were funny and you now need acknowledgement? Is it in case you’re worried about inadvertently offending me so you make light of what you just typed with a virtual guffaw?

I asked my son. Millennials know everything about everything when it comes to modern communication and typically have little problems reminding us old folks that we are still living in the dark ages. Here’s what he said: “It’s an entirely new grammatical entity that applies to the new wave of quick text-based communication.”

Yeah, so apparently I raised a smarty-pants. He also added LOL is used to “add some lightheartedness to a statement that would otherwise read as gray or abrasive.”

Which leads to this question: why would you type something gray or abrasive if you want it to be lighthearted? Why not just type something frothy?

I can understand the use of LOL when responding to someone who made you laugh. Normally I just write back “You’re funny” but sure, I get it, LOL is fast and easy. I just don’t get the LOL when referring to your own scribbles. Isn’t that kinda like a comedian laughing at his own jokes?

I have long been called The Grammar Police (badge of honour!) and I know I am a Word Girl and I know I am being nit-picky here. I guess my hope is that we can all just take the time to choose our words carefully, take pride in our use of the English language and trust in our ability to make people laugh. If we need assistance I personally prefer a nice smiley face. Or the one that is crying and laughing. Or even the crazy face cause sometimes, you’re being, you know, crazy. Funny crazy.

Not necessarily ROTFLMAO but just a nice chuckle. Last night my son started to explain to me what that acronym signifies. We didn’t even get to the part of the conversation where I would have explained to him that back in the late 90s when he was 5 years old, I (his ancient decrepit mother) was USING that ridiculous combination of letters. I was a sophisticated, trendy, with-it chick and there was no way I was going to get left behind. I got hip to the lingo pretty damn quick.

LOL

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Be the First (and don’t be shy)!

When I lived in Guelph I did most of my daily walks on trails. I said “good morning’ to anyone who passed but mostly I just kept to myself, listened to music and trucked on. At Hope Bay (my summer paradise) I mostly walk on the (one and only) road. I listen to music, truck on, say good morning to anyone I pass AND I wave at any vehicle that drives by. Any vehicle. Sometimes I know the driver, sometimes I don’t and sometimes I’m not sure. But I smile and wave regardless. It just seems like the friendly, neighbourly thing to do.

When I landed back in Meaford full-time last October I split my walks between the Georgian trail and the streets. And on those streets (sidewalks, actually) I trucked and listen to music and didn’t wave at anyone.

I did not wave at anyone.

I have no idea why.

Sure, it’s a bigger (and more populous) place than Hope Bay. I never would have dreamed of random waving in Guelph (unless some attentive driver cut a wide berth to avoid killing me) and I guess I just didn’t dream of random waving here. These drivers all seemed to have somewhere to go. They certainly weren’t waving at me. We each stuck to our own path.

Then last week I started to think differently. I noticed all the signs on front lawns praising our essential workers and health care professionals. I noticed the colourful handmade drawings in front windows stating, “We are all in this together.” I noticed that the roads were decidedly quieter and the sidewalks a bit busier. Every single person I passed (on the other side of the street) had a smile and a wave. So many people were reaching out, trying to connect.

So I decided to start waving. Not just at pedestrians but at every single vehicle that I encountered.

The effect was instant and amazing. I saw looks of surprise. I saw looks of downright shock. I saw the odd person not look at all and I saw most people bust out a huge grin and wave back. By the time I got home I was grinning too. Non-stop, face-swallowing smiling.

Smiling is such an easy, contagious, joy-inducing activity. Waving is the icing on that very sweet cake. It’s win-win.

But here’s the thing – someone has to do it first.

That someone can be you.

I know it’s difficult if you’re shy. If you fear rejection. If you don’t get a wave in return. But honestly, it’s just a numbers game. The more you wave, the more waves you’ll get back. If you don’t wave at all, you’ll get back as many waves as you offered. And nobody will be smiling. We’ll all just carry on, scared, reluctant, frozen and alone.

I urge you to try it. BE the first. BE the one who instigates connection and joy. Wave with as much exuberance as you can muster. Smile as big as your lips allow. And do all of this as often as possible.

In these strange times we all muddle through as best we can. YOU decide how much to accomplish (or not). YOU decide how much connection you require (or desire). YOU decide how much (or how little) you can offer the world.

I just hope YOU decide to wave. Be the first. Open the (physical distancing, silent) dialogue. I guarantee it will come back to you tenfold.

Hey Meaford – I’m the chick in the beat-up old pink hoodie, big honkin’ white headphones and a blonde ponytail. I’m that crazy grinning girl waving at you.

I hope you wave back. And smile.

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Now Is Absolutely Not The Time To Hold Your Breath …

This morning I awoke to the news that a lovely friend had died. This death was not Covoid-related nor was it entirely unexpected. But it still smacked me upside the heart. I mean seriously, life is stupid enough these days and then this?

And then this afternoon I got a call from my son. One of his father’s closest pals had just dropped dead from a heart attack. Also far too young and this time out of left field.

WTF? Doesn’t seem fair, right?

And that’s when I remembered that on this 14th day of April in the year 2020, life – and death – still go on. Even though it feels like the earth has stopped spinning (or at the very least slowed down to a snail’s pace) life and all its great, mediocre, minor and inconsequential events has not stopped. People are still having babies, getting divorced, celebrating birthdays (in isolation) and dying. Not everything is related to the Corona Virus. Even though it feels like we have been sucked into a vortex of sci-fi proportions, the earth is still spinning. I mean for crying out loud it is actually snowing as I write this. It is April, after all. The earth is still spinning and Mother Nature still has a sense of humour.

So I am reminded. I am reminded that holding my breath for the last 4 weeks, the next 4 weeks or even the next 4 months is not an option. Even though it’s weird and solitary and unnatural, this IS life. It is the life we are all in right now. It is the only life on offer and instead of huddling in a corner, shutting our eyes tight and hoping to wake up to a brighter day, we must choose to create that brighter day today. Tomorrow. Every day. We must choose to NOT hold our breath. We must choose to breathe. In and out and in and out and when we get scared we must remind ourselves (and those around us) that breathing is the only answer.

Today in my world there are two families grieving in isolation. There are many friends and relatives surrounding them, also grieving in isolation. There can be no reunions and hugs, no services and fellowship, no coming together to mourn and offer solace.

But we can all still breathe. We can reach out to those in pain and offer words. An ear. A note or a text. A video chat or even a heartfelt card. We can all remember that this damn virus may have knocked the planet off its axle but there are many people knocked to the ground daily by other fountains of anguish. And now THEY have to breathe twice as hard. Twice as consciously. With twice as much hope that one day life will again hold joy.

Please don’t hold your breath waiting for some finish line with this pandemic. Instead find ways to draw as much joy as you can out of every day. Figure out how to do it. Figure out how to create joy. Give joy. Share joy. Every. Single. Day.

The two sweet souls who today left this world no longer have that choice. But you do.

In the half hour that I have been writing the sky pretty-snowed like Christmas Eve, then the sun came blasting out like a hot June afternoon, then it went dull and grey and sleety and now … the sun is once again fighting for supremacy. They call this “pathetic fallacy.” When the weather mirrors the plot.

Our current plot is nuts. Sci-fi unbelievable. Yet here we are. And real life and death are still here too.

So as long as you have the choice … breathe.

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We Can Come Out Of This Bitter or Better: Preparing For The Resurrection

We can come out of this bitter or better.

Those profound words were spoken last week by my friend Deborah Harbottle. And I’m quite sure no truer words could be uttered at this time.

I personally have now completed week 4 of total social isolation. And here it is Easter weekend. There will be no family dinner, no hugging my son (who I have not hugged since mid-January) and for many, no church service to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. I am not a church-going Christian so that part impacts me very little. What I am struck with is how now, after 4 weeks, we might want to start preparing for our own resurrection. Because I do believe it will come. And when it does we will have to choose.

Bitter or better?

Will we be pissed off that we missed spring and possibly also a good chunk of summer? Will we be resentful that we couldn’t celebrate birthdays, Easter, May 24 weekend and who knows what else? Will we be depressed that we lost our job, our income, our purpose and our freedoms? Will we be ashamed that we put on some weight and drank too much wine? Will we be bitter that the Corona Virus forced us to swallow this horribly sour pill?

Or will we be better?

I choose better even though I know full-well that better is going to take a lot of work. Bitter is easy. Just focus on how much life has changed, how the new normal is decidedly different, how lonely we are, how much we’ve had to give up and how it’s just not fair. Yes, it is easy to succumb to bitter.

But better is going to take some deep, hardcore re-evaluation. And the one thing I know about (most) people is that deep hardcore self-evaluation often ranks up there with root canal work on the pleasure scale. But evaluate we must IF we want this world event to teach us what I truly believe it is meant to teach us.

Okay I said I was not a church-going Christian. But I am spiritual. I enjoy a big connection with The Universe. (I mean that. I really do enjoy it). And this morning on my walk it hit me. The Universe wants the entire world to wake the fuck up.

Shall we check in –

  1. Here’s a pandemic, folks. It will mostly kill older people. Infirm people. People who may not have decades to look forward to regardless. BUT it will also randomly (or so it seems) kill ANYONE. No matter the age, race, religious leaning or general state of health, it just might kill anyone. Including YOU or those YOU love. Shit.
  2. We have to physically distance ourselves from those we love in order to protect those we love. In doing this we also protect a whole lot of people we don’t know. Holy crap. We are being taught (inadvertently) to care for our fellow man.
  3. We are now forced to confront our own reality – whatever it is. Many of us are living in it 24/7 so if we didn’t like it before this is sure as hell not going to make us like it now. Now when there is no escape. Yep. Where do you really want to be? And why?
  4. We can’t go shopping, dine out, invite pals for drinks and dinner or even host a backyard barbecue. If “social” was your jam it can no longer BE your jam. And if you have a summer place forget it. Don’t go. No jamming allowed.
  5. If you are single and alone you are REALLY fucking single and alone now. Maybe it’s time to reach out and facilitate the life you want instead of waiting for it to come to you?
  6. Work, overwhelming prosperity, adulation and/or social status no longer count. The heroes of our day are the front-line medical workers who are risking their own lives for US. The grocery store cashiers and the waste collectors and the pharmacy clerks and the cleanup crews. Actors? Sports stars? People famous for being famous? The folks we worshiped and rewarded with handsome financial compensation? They are not in our reality anymore. Musicians, yes. Authors yes. But the Kardashians of the world have somehow become instantly irrelevant.

But these are first-world problems.

Maybe this pandemic will soften all-world conflicts? Maybe partisan politics will take a back seat to collective care? Maybe some of the members of that 1% billionaire club will lose someone special to this plague and finally realize that money does not guarantee survival? Maybe we will all learn to reach out more, help out more and always be grateful for what we DO have instead of bemoaning what has been taken away?

Resurrection: a rising again, as from decay, disuse … a revival. (dictionary.com)

Mother Earth is enjoying a much-needed rest. Selfish, posturing and uncaring politicians are being exposed for who they truly are. Regular, everyday humans (like you and me) are being forced to find new ways to love. New ways to show up. New ways to be there for those who need us. New priorities to embrace. New realities to evaluate.

I don’t think it’s any Universal coincidence that what could be the defining week of this wake-up call falls hot on the heels of Easter. Forget the chocolate bunnies, daffodils, church services and coloured eggs. Christian or not, I urge you to think about resurrection.

Yours. Our country’s. The planet’s.

How you THINK and act now and in the coming weeks will impact that resurrection profoundly.

Will you be bitter or better?

Your choice.

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Is All This Isolation “Disturbing” You?

“Time is a great healer. But it is also a great disturber.”

These intriguing words were spoken to me last night, during  a video chat with my friend JL. We were discussing these past two and a half weeks of alone-ness. Of distancing. Of just maybe getting to know ourselves and our circumstances a little better.

Ah yes, our circumstances. Those very things we have spent a lifetime either inventing, enjoying or avoiding. And here we are, unexpectedly forced to actually LIVE our circumstances whether we like them or not. We’re a little bit frozen. We can’t invent much new and we can’t escape what is present. If we’re very fortunate we can perhaps enjoy and be grateful for what we have.

I also had a nice chat with my pal K yesterday. I asked him how he and his partner were coping. His reply: “We’re really enjoying the break.”

WTF you might ask? The BREAK?

Yep. That’s what he called it. Because for them this forced hiatus from the “real world” is a break. An opportunity to slow down, rest, reflect, breathe, enjoy each other and NOT be consumed with the day-to-day rumblings of ordinary life.

Because there ain’t nothing ordinary about these times.

Just ask T. T is retired and single. T has no one to “enjoy” this break with except her dog. No job to go to, no colleagues to lunch with, no friends to socialize with and no children to tend to. And T is very, very lonely.

And then there’s W. W is going bat-shit stir-crazy. Because W is a go-go-go gal and when she can’t go, she’s goes nuts. She can’t go to the gym, she can’t play soccer, she can’t work her head off (even though she can work from home) and can’t escape her current relationship. The one that doesn’t much fulfill her anymore. The one she thinks she should end. The one that is now in her face full-time.

THIS is why all this isolation time is the great disturber. So much time stuck in your own reality, your own thoughts, your own house and even your own denial and yeah … you are bound to get disturbed. When our typical distractions are minimized or become non-existent there can be no avoidance. We are forced to confront our circumstances and evaluate them. We are (I hope) compelled to look towards the future with clearer eyes. What IS important? What ARE the true priorities? What WILL we do when freedom is again ours to take for granted?

There is so much interesting stuff going on right now. Skies are clearer. Waters are too. We are finding new ways to connect. We are acknowledging how importance connection is. Boundaries, whether social, economic, geographical or political are blurring. Because we are all equally susceptible to this plague. Some of us will undergo financial hardship, some will weather the storm heroically, some will suffer unbearably and some … like my pal K … will find the silver lining and enjoy the break.

The one thing I’ll put money on is this – when we come the other side, no one will be the same. No one will be unaltered. No one will simply resume.

At least this is what I hope.

No distractions. No denials. No diversions.

But disturbance?

Yes.

Disturbance can be very, very good.

I urge you to allow it. Embrace it. Make friends with it. Even in these dark times.

Who knows what incredible light is waiting at the end of the tunnel?

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Stay The Fuck At Home!

Okay, sorry for the foul language. I do have a potty mouth and believe it or not I do try to keep it in check, but not today. And not because of the Corona virus pandemic – that is what it is (hello Universe). But the morons who can’t quite figure out how to respond to our new normal … well that makes me cuss. A lot.

Yesterday (Sunday) I spent an hour in church. Not a four-walled church or a physical gathering but my own personal temple which happens to be … the great outdoors. I walked in the glorious sunshine, alone and content, for almost an hour. I saw Georgian Bay churning up spectacular waves, I saw ice on the lakeside trees shimmering in the morning sun, I saw the bluest sky I’ve seen this year and I saw an empty church parking lot. Like, a “real” church. Because of course real congregation is now forbidden.

I was SO happy that my communion with a higher power doesn’t need bricks, pews, crosses and altars. So happy that no virus and no government and no law can mandate my fellowship with the divine. The divine within me and the divine all around me. My walk was truly heavenly.

And then today, after a snowy white start and more and more bad news, my province announced we are shutting down. Essential services only. It’s not total quarantine. We can still get food, medicine and wine (thank goodness!) and as far as I know I CAN STILL GO FOR MY DAILY WALK.

But I’m not sure. And I’m not sure for how long. Because the next step is full lock-down. FULL lock-down like Italy.

I cannot even imagine.

I can handle closed stores and limited live human interaction. I can handle ordering my groceries online (I love shopping for food) and lots of phone calls instead of visits. I can handle working from home (I already do) and reading tons of books (yay Kindle!). But … I’m not sure that I will be able to handle NOT walking outside.

Even when I broke my ankle ten years ago, the MINUTE I was able to put my foot down (literally) I was back on the sidewalk. Crutches, cane, the arm of a friend – I did it. Because walking outside is my thing. I don’t own a treadmill and I don’t go to the gym. I walk outdoors. Preferably alone with my music and my soul.

But now I go walk and then I see photos online. Crowded beaches, folks out eating and shopping, stupid American presidents, the list is endless. And I think “I’m going to lose it. I am going to lose my church. Because some moronic, self-absorbed, unaware group of FUCKTARDS don’t want to listen and actually HEAR and then ACT, I am most likely going to lose my church.”

Yes. Poor selfish me.

Stay the fuck at home people. Unless you are one of the amazing and selfless front-line humans keeping our world afloat, PLEASE stay the fuck at home. Don’t invite friends over. Don’t bend the rules just a little. Don’t believe for a minute you are above and beyond. You are not. I am not.

Find your own sanctuary. Dwell in it in peace. Do unto others. Do the absolute best you can do for the human race (and apparently now gorillas too). Do it with grace and gratitude. Just do it.

Stay the fuck at home.

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Why The Corona Virus Will Probably Make Me Fat

So here we are, wrapping up the first week of the Twilight Zone. Last Friday I was shopping for groceries and was astounded at the empty toilet paper aisle. Now, 7 days later, we have come to expect crazy. And we expect crazy to get crazier.

I work from home and live in a small community which (so far) seems relatively unscathed by this pandemic. That’s today. However in view of tomorrow, we have decided to pretty much hunker down, self-isolate and wait. We do bring food to our 85 year-old neighbour and I do go for my daily walk (cutting a very wide berth around anyone I should meet) but other than that it’s just me, my beloved and our pooch, day-in and day-out.

I am fine with this. As socially gregarious as some folks think me to be, I’m actually very content in my own company. Here’s what I am not so content with:

My increasing desire for comfort food.

This past week I made a monstrous pan of bacon mac and cheese. Sure, we brought a casserole dish full to our neighbour. Buy boy oh boy that is EXACTLY what I wanted to eat. Mac and cheese and soup. Every night I make a different cauldron of soup. Creamy potato and sausage, curried veg, oriental noodle … whatever I can think of that sounds comforting. We have ice cream in the freezer and pasta in the pantry. I know how to make almond-flour bread and mozzarella pizza crust. Ain’t nobody gonna starve on my watch!

Now, I am not a girl who is prone to panic. I’m pretty good at maintaining a clear head in times of crisis, I stay logical and forward-thinking and am proud to say I am usually the one my friends come to when they are anxious. So why the comfort eating?

I am going to go out on a limb here and say … for comfort. Yes for comfort. We all need reassurance in these trying times. We need warmth. Hugs. Love. Fulfillment. Alas we’re not allowed to practice physical affection with anyone but those within our immediate sphere.

So we listen to music. Watch television. Read books. Play with our kids (not me, he’s not here and I think too old to play, although we do both love a good board game). We try not to get addicted to our news feed. We try to help out our neighbours. To help out small business in our community. We stay connected via modern technology, we maybe drink an extra glass of wine and we EAT.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Sure, there is something wrong (or at least unhealthy) with gluttony to the point of obesity. But craving comfort in a discomforting time is normal. And when your options for producing comfort are diminished, you do what you can.

For us women there is more yet to come. I mean, we may get a bit chubby but we’re also going to have to give up hair colour. A trip to the beauty parlour doesn’t exactly satisfy social distancing guidelines, does it? I have highlights in my naturally dirty blonde hair and I am suddenly wishing I was grey. Because grey roots wouldn’t show nearly as soon as dirty blonde roots. Oh well … we’ll see what happens. Same goes for pedicures, facials, fake nails, fake eyelashes, Botox, fillers and massages (damn). All verboten.

In the last week I have not worn a speck of makeup. Not even once. I have also not worn a bra (yay!). My hair is in a ponytail, my roots are coming in, I’m praying my most recent pedicure lasts at least 6 weeks and I’m hoping my beloved will take over massage-duty.

I don’t care about the rest of it.

I hope you don’t either. And I hope you don’t get crazy if you put on a few lbs. in the next few months. Walk as much as you can. It truly is the BEST thing for stress (and fitness). If you can work out at home (and want to) then work out at home. Treat yourself to music and books and television. Have an extra glass of wine without shame.

And if a little extra comfort food brings you comfort in these crazy times then please … be comforted. Comfort yourself. Comfort others (if you like to cook). Allow yourself the luxury of just a little indulgence.

These are crazy times. Let’s not add to the crazy trying to be movie starts or supermodels. They are in this too and every bit as susceptible. Let’s be loving. To others and to ourselves.

Tonight we’re having garlic bread with barbecued chicken, tomatoes, grated cheddar and a salad. We are watching “Friends” because it makes us laugh. We will drink (more) wine, walk the dog and slumber soundly in our beautiful bed.

I feel comforted already.

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