You Know What … Maybe It IS All About Me?

Do you remember (many years ago) those “Baby On Board” bumper stickers? They became very popular and everyone agreed they were a good reminder to drive with more caution. After all, that tiny brand new soul was in the vehicle.
Well everyone except my clever pal H. I hadn’t yet spawned any offspring but she had a brand new daughter and as we drove off to lunch together (her baby safely at home with Grandma) and stopped behind a minivan at the lights she said “Those things are stupid!”
I will tell you, I was shocked!  A brand new mother calling baby safety stupid?
She went on: “I am a mother and of course I will slay dragons to protect my child, and of course everyone should drive with caution and care. But what makes a baby’s life more important than an adult’s? Is it just dandy that I drive recklessly with my mother in the car? When I drive alone is it acceptable behavior to plow into my Datsun at your earliest convenience? Do you only have to access your brain and therefore your best driving skills when you see that bumper sticker? Stupid.”
I was flabbergasted. And enlightened. Because of course she was right. Yes, babies are magical little critters and so are husbands and grandmas and puppies and friends. And so are we. We as in individual human beings navigating this life through valleys and mountains as best we can. We too are important.
So when someone says “You always make it all about you” why do we take it as an insult? Well of course it’s because it is always meant as an insult. But much like that bumper sticker was meant to remind us to slow down and pay attention, maybe we are also meant to be reminded to take care of ourselves? Because the bottom line is if you don’t make it all about you, who will?
Now I’m not suggesting here that we all get up our own asses to the point of narcissism, selfish behaviour and lack of humanity. What I am pondering tonight is self-care. The innate right to not only put yourself first ON OCCASION but your duty to ensure that your well being is actually being attended to. Kind of like the oxygen on a plane. Take care of yourself first because if you don’t you will be rendered incapable of taking care of anyone else.
As parents we are daily faced with the great challenge of watching our spawn face their challenges. And as parents we desire with all our hearts to minimize those challenges with daggers and muskets if need be. Nobody wants to see their kid in pain.
But every kid has to grow up sometime and every parent has to loosen those apron strings so that said kid CAN grow up. Become accountable. Make wise decisions.
At the same time, we parents have to remember that we are also worthy. We are worthy of joy and adventure and contentment. We are worthy of emotional sustenance and a sympathetic ear. We are worthy of oxygen. It is not in our job description to abandon all individual pursuits in order to be available 24/7. Of course we need (and want) to be available. But it is also vital that we take in that oxygen for ourselves too and sometimes make it “all about me”.
I actually believe there is a certain selfishness in ignoring your own self. We are given but one life on this planet, at least in our current configurations. We are given countless opportunities to do good and help out and give back and pay forward. However we need fuel to facilitate these endevours and that fuel comes from self-care. When we devote ALL of our energies to others – even our children – we enter into a dangerous martyr-land where dying for the cause is preferable to living, helping, changing, sharing and living some more. Living some more.
I am fortunate to have in my life enough symbiotic relationships where the yin and yang of give and take ebbs and flows constantly … yet always fairly. Some of these associations have lasted 40 years, some 4 years, some 4 months. The beauty is no one ever questions if it’s all about me today or all about you today because we know that if it’s all about one of us today the other will have their day tomorrow. Or the next day. We understand that life is never 50/50. We offer help when it is needed and we ask for help when we need it. That is real love. Real friendship. Real relationship.
So I beseech you – every now and then make it ALL about you. Get that oxygen. And if you can’t reach it ask someone else to get it for you. Someone who believes in you and you trust. Someone who recognizes the ebb and flow and has no interest in insulting you. Someone who reminds you that yes, you are worthy.
Because you are. Even if you’re not a baby.
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Why Do I Blog? The Answers May Surprise You.

A friend recently asked me WHY I blog? What is it in me that feels the NEED to disclose so much personal information with the world? Why do I have such desire to SHARE so much publicly. Sure, other people may think as I do but they are quite content to think quietly. Privately. Some people may discuss issues with close friends and some people may journal but what is it exactly that drives me to think, write and then publish?

Well, first off, my mother asked me that question many times. As did my sister. As much as they were fans of my writing they were not fans of my disclosing. TOO MUCH INFORMATION, they offered. You should keep more to yourself, they advised. Some things should remain private.

Fair enough. And to be honest I concur. Some things should remain private. And those things will never find their way into my blogs.

But who defines those things is key. You may say 90% of your life and I may say 25% of mine. And so I blog and you don’t.

In their own lives my family members made that choice and I took no issue with it. Apparently though we are allowed to take issue when someone is too vocal. But doesn’t that go to the old saying “Tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt?”

Something like that. And I don’t care.

Because I do know that when you speak your mind and your truth you might as well paint a target on your heart. When you remain silent you remain safe.

But this doesn’t really answer the “why do you blog” question, does it?

There are several reasons and the first one that comes to mind is this: I blog because I can. I blog because that target on my heart doesn’t scare me half as much as most. You know that recurring dream when you’re naked in a room of fully clothed people? And you’re desperate for cover or clothing and humiliated because you can’t find it?
I have that dream regularly. Except I am not desperate or humiliated. In my dream I keep thinking that yes, this is awkward and yes, maybe I should locate clothing or a blanket but in my dream I just keep getting on with whatever I’m doing in spite of my nudity.

I’m no dream-interpreter but I think this speaks volumes. Not to my desire to join a nudist colony (I did go to a nude beach once and the best I could muster was “topless”) but more to my comfort level with being transparent. I have no problem sharing my truth because it is my truth and I own my truth. Sure I may start scribbling and in my wine-soaked state say things that are my truth THAT NIGHT and those truths may not exist next year. But that is the point of a blog, right? It’s not a novel meant to stand the test of centuries. It is a snapshot (does anybody still use that word?) of how the writer is feeling that moment.

So … answer #1 – I blog because I can. I blog because I am not afraid of sharing too much, being too transparent or pissing anyone off.

And then there’s my brain. And my life. I spent the first 45 years of that life trying to fit into a prescribed mold and trying to do the right things for the right people at the right time. I may have poured out my soul into an original song or two but for the most part I kept my inner rumblings to myself. And you know what? Inner rumblings are like a volcano. They may exist as a quiet roar for years on end and then BOOM! They erupt.

At least for me. I know people who can compartmentalize their inner rumblings, stash them away privately for late night ruminations, share them with only a few close mates or ignore them entirely and go back to slotting themselves into a bigger, more acceptable picture.

I am not those people. Not anymore. I was those people and now I am not. I am not condemning those people for still being those people and nor will I apologize for no longer being those people. My life now is my life. My big fat transparent beautiful life.

As for my brain? I have a lot of time to think. And a lot of time to consider different stories, options, approaches and reasons. My brain just goes there. If you go back to the very first blog I ever wrote – April 2012 – you will see it was written in response to something a friend said to me. I had replied to him in depth, via email, and when I did he said “Vic you need to start blogging. You need to share your insights with the world.”

So … reasons #2 and #3 – I blog because I spend a lot of time thinking about things that most people don’t have a lot of time to think about and I blog because I love to write.  My life brought me to a place of understanding that I choose to share with the world. And because my friend believed in me and my ramblings enough to suggest that I make them available to the public.

And that’s the real reason that I keep on blogging. Because as much as that target can be a bit daunting at times the positive feedback I have received over these last 6 years far outweighs my fear of getting shot in the heart. “A” tells me she reads all my blogs and sometimes feels like I am reading her mind; they speak so profoundly to her own life and journey. “B” tells me she loves the way I write fearlessly. “C” tells me I usually make her laugh. “D” tells me I always make him think. “E” tells me he just likes my style. And “F” tells me I have taken her feelings and put them into words.

So … reason #4 is really my biggest cause for blogging. The same reason people give Ted Talks and become keynote speakers or even write memoirs. I want to entertain you with my truths and I hope to help you sort out your own.

I am no qualified therapist. No one has invited me to give a Ted Talk or a keynote speech. But I do believe in my ability to write and my ability to entertain. I believe in my ability to tell the truth and my ability to be transparent. I believe in my ability to tackle subjects that are universal and terrifying and subjects that are difficult and daunting. I believe in my ability to help.

Sure, when I write about my son, my ex or my current beau you can figure out who it is. But I would also like to believe that I have never written anything about any one of them that is damning. I also work very hard at keeping everyone else anonymous. Do I succeed 100% of the time. Perhaps not. Do I ever go back and think “Golly, I wish I hadn’t written that?” Perhaps a time or two.

But that is it. A time or two. For the most part I don’t go back at all. Maybe one day I’ll have a hankering to peruse all those old snapshots. For now, I choose to go forward. Go forward and tackle difficult topics in order to clarify them in my own soul and maybe help you clarify them in yours. Or at the very least entertain you with my musings.

I believe I can.

I believe this because you my lovely readers have told me so. And for me, that is enough reason to keep on blogging. Sure I could blog about travel or food, real estate or fashion. But you don’t need to be honest or fearless or transparent to do that.

It would also appear that nudity is my jam.

I’m okay with that.

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Karma Is A Bitch … But Maybe So Are You?

A few nights ago I was drinking wine with a friend and in between sips, nibbles of cheese and a brief discussion of my melancholy, she was bemoaning many things in her life. Some more or less out of her control (her health, the absence of her child, her dog’s old age) and some more a question of interpretation. Real estate, the selling of said, cleaning one’s house, keeping one’s house clean whilst cooking and a bunch of other things I don’t recall. After much discussion it appeared to me (one glass in) that there were some great things going on in her world and some other not-so-great things that were giving her immense grief. Some things that just seemed damned unfortunate for no particular reason.

And so I offered (in my ever-so-winesoaked-astute way) that she must have some bad karma happening. And she immediately replied “I know, right? But I’m pretty sure it all goes back to my stupid ex-husband and all the stupid things that happened with him!”

I didn’t respond to that comment because A) I was surprised by it and B) I could sense our chat might go even more sideways if I weighed in.

Because the thing is … I’m pretty sure that that is NOT how karma works. I’m pretty sure you cannot blame your current bad karma on something that someone else did 10 years ago. Or 5 years ago. Or 5 minutes ago. I’m pretty sure YOUR karma is all about what YOU do.

And so I looked it up (thanks Wikipedia): Karma refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual influence the future of that individual.

Ya think?

Nowhere does it mention the individual’s ex-husband and how his intent and actions could now be influencing her life. I’m pretty sure MY ex’s actions (or lack thereof) still colour my view of life but I am quite sure they in no way colour my karma.

Because my karma is ALL about me. It is all about ME and what I do every single day. Every single hour. Every single moment.

I have a chance to alter my karma a thousand times a day. With every decision I make and every action I undertake I am influencing my karma. It is not a static thing. It is ever evolving, ever fluid and ever changing all based on me and my choices. My actions. My darling ex-husband is completely off the hook. My current lover is off the hook. My parents are off the hook, my upbringing is off the hook and ALL of my friends are off the hook.

This IS all about ME.

Funny, because that is how our conversation ended. Well, our conversation AND our friendship.

Yes, another one bites the dust.

Go Vickie go!

You see, while she was attempting to wallow in her eternal victim-hood, I was (once again) attempting to drag her out of it. I was attempting to show her the forest, the trees, the bunny rabbits, the clover and the moss on the underbelly of that old tree. I was asking her to take responsibility for HER karma and just get on with it. Whatever IT is. I was trying to gently illustrate that her life was actually pretty darned peachy (some might say blessed) and blaming an ex husband and real estate agents and furniture stores was really counter-productive to embracing her peachy life and moving forward.

You want the universe to respond with positivity? Send positivity out there. Gratitude. Love. Forgiveness.

You want good karma? Do good things.

Period.

It is truly the simplest fucking equation on this good earth. Want good karma – do good things. Experiencing bad karma? Look really close at HOW you are approaching your life. I honestly don’t think Miss Karma cares much for victims. Miss Karma cares for ‘doers of good’.

This is not rocket science.

And just before you go accusing me of being a heartless bitch I will confess that yes, I have been feeling a bit melancholy of late and I did want to discuss this with her. Not victim-melancholy or his-fault-melancholy or even life’s-not-fair melancholy. Just Vickie-melancholy.

That’s when she told me I “always make it ALL about me.”

I actually put down my wine (hard to believe, I know) and said “Excuse me?”

And she repeated, in her best, calmest, most patronizing voice that I “always make everything about me. Always. Always have. Everyone knows it.”

Apparently I’ve never done a goddamned thing for anyone ever in the history of the fucking universe. It’s always been all about me.

Well.

The rest of y’all can weigh in on that or not and it won’t impact my self-esteem one bit because I already know better. I know who I am, I know what I do and I know what I give.

Period.

And here’s what else I know. It IS all about me. At least when it comes to my relationship with Miss Karma. Because that lovely broad has treated me very, very well over these last few years. I have no complaints with Miss K. I would like to believe she also has no complaints with me.

As for this (now ex) friend?

In the past few days I have been informed by THREE of my remaining pals (I do have more, honest) that I am a “collector”.  I collect people and musicians and friends and fans and problems and issues and then more people and anyone who needs me or wants me or gains something from my acquaintance. I make room for everyone. I collect lost souls and found souls and searching souls and souls in pain and just hope that on some level I can help. If they need it.

This recent (last 2 years) departure of four (count ’em FOUR!) now-former pals is a tiny drop in the bucket. And no doubt a necessary one. Culling the herd, as they say. Making room for new energy more aligned with my own. And strangely enough that new energy is pouring in like wine.

Is there sadness? Yes. Regret? No. Melancholy? My new best friend.

Acceptance?

Coming.

I see the light. The tunnel is long but I see the light. Miss Karma is guiding me very step of the way. Because she is not a bitch (and neither am I).

She is the truth.

And if you do not like her truth then maybe it’s time to reexamine your own.

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Best Friends Day? Hmmm … I Don’t Have One.

I just read that today is “Best Friends” Day. Who knew? I guess we all need something to celebrate every day so why not?

Except I do not know exactly who I should celebrate on this auspicious occasion. Because I do not have a best friend.

Now before you go feeling all sorry for me, hear me out. I have lots of friends. Lots and lots. Sometimes I have a difficult time keeping track of all my friends, remembering their birthdays (thank you Facebook!), keeping up with their lives, making time to get together and just, you know, doing the “friend thing” to the best of my ability. Sometimes I’m busy, sometimes I’m lazy and sometimes I’m in full-on cocoon mode and have no interest in socializing. Sometimes I feel guilty and sometimes I feel lucky but I never ever feel like I am lacking in the friend department.

But this “best friend” thing? How do you choose?

When I was a kid I always had a bestie. It was part of growing up, I reckon, having that one special person always in your corner, always with your back, always there to share all your secrets and all your dreams and all your popsicles. I think it wasn’t until my later high school years that I abandoned the bestie concept and adopted many friends, from many groups, for many reasons. I had a best drinking buddy. A best theatre pal. A best cottage crony. A best musical mate. All different people and all “best” at what they brought to my table. I no longer insisted that one and only one person fulfill all my needs. I created a village.

When my son was about 14 he asked me who my best friend was. He knew there were lots of special women (and a few men) in my life. He had seen me interact with them countless times. He understood that some went back decades and some only years and he was flummoxed. He couldn’t figure out which one was “best”. And he needed to know.

“I don’t have a best friend,” I answered. “I have lots of friends.”

“But one of them must be your best friend,” he countered. “One of them must be your favourite, right?”

Nope.

Because much like in a village, every friend performs a particular role. Every friend brings a unique talent to my world. A special perspective, a singular skill-set, an exclusive energy that I desire and appreciate and DO NOT RATE.

And that’s what my son’s 14 year old brain couldn’t comprehend. He could not contemplate a scenario when putting things in their proper order wasn’t necessary. Rank your pals, mama! Know their worth! Anoint someone #1!

Again. Nope.

I had no need to do that at the end of high school, I had no need to do that when my kid was a teenager and I still have no need to do that. There is no “best”. There is only “best for that moment” or “best for that purpose”.

When I need to dig deeper than I want to but know I need to, I go to J. If I needed someone to save my life or at the very least get me to the hospital, C would be my first call. If I need to fill my soul with music and poetry, I will always beckon S. If I need beautiful sisterhood in close proximity, M is my girl. If I want sass and spunk coupled with insightful spirit, nobody beats T. If I want history and all the glorious wisdom that comes with it, I’ve got another T and A and H and F. The list goes on and on and I am overflowing with gratitude for it.

Sometimes it also goes the other way. Sometimes I am the one who is needed. And I gladly show up because those friendships are every bit as important.

I know women who purport that their mate is their best friend. I love my mate but no, he is not. Neither is my sister, my son or my dog. They are all awesome. There just really and truly is no best.

This past week a dear old friend of mine lost her best friend. And my heart breaks for her. I can acknowledge and appreciate their special bond and I can empathize with her pain and I can mourn her loss profoundly. They were twin spirits. And now she is one.

In my own sphere there are so very many whose loss would devastate me. I guess that makes me blessed. To love and be loved by so many? Lucky me.

Most of the special people I thought were twin spirits have come … and gone. Perhaps that is why I no longer subscribe to the bestie thing? Maybe it has let me down once too often?

Nope.

I go back to the village thing. I’m a girl who needs a village. Call me greedy or call me flighty. You can even call my crazy. I personally think I am quite clever. I have figured out what I need and I have created it. With the help of an entire village of beautiful, loving, caring, special, unique, incredible souls.

My village.

You are ALL my best friends. So thank you, each and every one. My heart is filled with gratitude and love.

Happy “It Takes A Village” Day! Thank you for being in mine.

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How Often Do You Mountain A Molehill?

One of the great beauties of getting older (and there are many) is that through all that living we end up with so many experiences to look back on … and learn from. And that’s the thing, isn’t it? Some experiences are just meant to be enjoyed. Or endured. But many are suppose to teach us a lesson. Give us a takeaway. So that we don’t, you know, make the same mistake over again. And again. And again.

Wouldn’t want to do that. Nope.

But have you ever looked back on an enterprise, one that you thought (at the time) was monumental, life-changing, earth-shattering blah blah and realize (with all your new-found maturity) that it was just a blip? Just a teensy blip on the grand radar screen of your life.

It’s so difficult to recognize those blips when we are in the middle of living them because when we are in the middle of living them they can become all-consuming. Or at the very least somewhat distracting. And so we decide the blip is really a BIG DEAL. Until we come out the other side, shaking our heads and wondering … what the hell just happened? And why the hell did I get so all-fired up about a blip when the grand radar screen of my life is so much more engaging?

Years ago, my long-married friend H engaged in an online flirtation with a man she met in one of those chat rooms. It was thrilling and duplicitous (which made it even more thrilling) and at times she quite seriously questioned if her marriage could go the distance, knowing now as she did that excitement and passion could still beckon. There were many sleepless nights. Many heartfelt bordering on poetic emails. Many tears at my kitchen table. And then a few more sleepless nights until she woke up and remembered that anything new and mysterious is typically more thrilling than something old and familiar. And yet with old and familiar also comes history, trust, truth and dare I say … contentment. She realized pretty damn quick that what she had built with her husband was worth fighting for, not abandoning for … a blip. That online dude was a blip. A wake-up call, yes. But in the grand scheme of her life, merely a blip. Sure, for a few distraught months she mountained the hell out of that molehill. Thankfully she was eventually able to slot it back into teensy-blip-land, where it now remains a teensy episode in her marital saga.

Then there’s my other pal P. P actually did engage in an extra-marital dalliance. The reasons why are many and also immaterial. She ultimately decided to leave her husband and NOT because of said dalliance. After months of beating herself up over her cheating heart (other body parts were also involved) she realized that the affair was merely a symptom of a much bigger problem. A problem that would not be solved by replacing it with another problem. So she ditched both guys and set off on a new solo journey, all the while berating herself for breaking her vows.

Sorry, good Christians. I call BLIP.

Many years (and a new happy relationship later) that extracurricular activity was just a blip. Another wake-up call, yes, but just a teensy blip in the grand scheme of her life. There really was no need to turn into anything more than it was; a half-hour sitcom, not a sweeping epic a la Gone With The Wind.

I have many more examples of people in my orbit turning molehills into mountains. My son does it all the time but really, who can blame him? When you’re in your 20s everything seems monumental. I have friends (and ex-friends) who do it all the time because they either A) have no long-range vision or B) they thrive on drama. And I also know many people who look back on their lives and wonder why the heck they wasted so much time on a fucking blip when the big fat fabulous grand radar screen of their life was beeping. Quietly. Resolutely. Ever-beeping, reminding them that blips are just blips and molehills are not mountains.

I will admit now that I am a full-fledged molehill mountaineer. I have mountained SO many molehills in my time they’re naming one after me. Mount Neverest.

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

I have turned blips into boulders before my morning coffee and I have sensationalized smidgeons of sandy specks when I should have been sleeping. I am fully capable of magnifying a measly morsel until it becomes a monumental monster … in my own alleged mind.

Until I look back at those hills that used to be alive and recognize the range is gone. It no longer exists. It actually never did. Because what I thought was a mountain was in fact a molehill. And no matter how you dress it up a blip is still just a blip.

I recently found myself spending far too much time, emotional energy, intellectual creativity and just plain old thought on a friendship that, in the end, was unworthy. I am not saying here that the friendship itself was unworthy. I am saying that the amount of time etc. (blah blah) that I was spending on that friendship was undeserving. And when that hit me I started beating myself up for being a moron. I will tell you I can beat myself up over any number of things on a daily basis but the one thing I hate more than anything is being a MORON.

And then I stopped. Beating myself up (for the record I never blame the other person). Because I decided (and it is always our decision to make) that this relationship was just a BLIP. Just a tiny blip on the grand radar screen of my life. It is what it is, it was what it was, it may even be what it will be … but right now TODAY I’m calling it a blip.

My life has been huge and full and I’m hoping there is much more huge and full to come. In hindsight I now know that so many what I thought were mountains were really just molehills. I can only hope that this hard-won knowledge won’t be quite so hard-won in the future. The good news is – this most recent experience no longer has a hold on me. I can let it go. Set it free. Banish it from my brain and move forward. I do not regret it, I do not long for it and I do not blame myself for its inception or its demise.

It was just a blip.

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Motherless Mother’s Day … and Passing The Torch.

This Sunday I will experience my first ever Mother’s Day without my mama. I am not sad. Perhaps a bit wistful but I recognize daily how fortunate I am. And was. My mother lived to 93. I got more than most. And when she departed she was ready to fly.

What more could you ask for?

Now just because I’m not despairing doesn’t mean her absence doesn’t catch me up on occasion. Like this past Easter when we were hosting the family dinner and I ventured into the garage to grab something, noticed my beloved’s car and thought “He’ll have to move that before the family arrives so that my mother can use the steps …”

And then I stopped. And shook my head. And fought back a tear. You see, we had installed a special hand rail to help her up the two steps from the garage into the house. And she would no longer be needing it.

You know how I just said I wasn’t sad? I’m going to have to take that back for a moment.

Yes, my new reality is it will be a Motherless Mother’s Day this Sunday. But then again, perhaps not? Because as it turns out … I am also a mother. And I will be ecstatic to celebrate that status this weekend. It wasn’t exactly easily won. I had three miscarriages before Sam finally stuck. And for that I am actually, weirdly, grateful. Because Sam is the one I was waiting for. He is the one who made motherhood (not my most natural calling, truth be told) make sense to me. He is the child I was meant to raise.

Why?

Allow me to sidestep for a moment (Who me? Never done that before.). Sam is a singer/songwriter whose debut label EP will drop sometime (please God!) this year. This morning I was privileged to hear the final mixes of the 7 songs. I have been privy to this process all along so I know these tunes inside and out but to finally hear the end result – what you will hear when you download or stream the EP – was thrilling beyond belief. And then to remember that most of these brilliant lyrics (and trust me, he is a brilliant lyricist) are his – I was overcome with gratitude. To my mother. Because that which she instilled in me, I somehow managed to pass along to my son.

English was my father’s third language, and even though he didn’t begin to learn it until his third decade he became an accomplished author, journal founder, editor and academic. But English was my mother’s first language. And her love of its every nuance, structure, cadence and idiom shaped her very existence. Words were her thing! She wrote essays and poems until her dying day. Literally – she wrote her own homily. She translated novels and stories from their original German, always fastidiously maintaining the colour and tone of the original. She read voraciously, she scribbled incessantly and … she even wrote her memoirs just so that my sister and I could have a true and beautiful sense of her early life … and ours.

And she passed all of this along to me. She was always willing to read anything I wrote. I was recently bequeathed a hardcover journal which I gave her when I was maybe 25? Chock-full of handwritten poems, musings and lyrics that I had composed over the previous ten years. She had kept this and treasured it until her death. I used to write a newspaper column for the Hamilton Spec and not only did she keep every single one, she put them in a scrapbook. She kept every single letter I wrote when I was on the road with my bands and she read both novels I have written and every single blog. You share way too much, Vickie” she would admonish. “But you are a very good writer.” There was no one whose praise I valued more. I was so honoured (and now grateful) that she kept everything.

Much like I have kept every demo of every song and every version of every demo of every song even if this means that my computer in now full to needing an external hard drive of everything that Sam has ever written ever in the history of ever. I mean it. EVERYTHING. Somebody better do a documentary about that kid one day because I’ve got it all here just waiting.

Because that’s what we “word” mothers do. We catalog and keep and cherish and love every beautiful morsel our child constructs. Partly just so we have it. Mostly because we are in awe that the wailing, barfy, poopy-diapered banshee who refused to let us sleep for the fist 14 years (is that just me?) of his life has somehow blossomed into a soulful, sensitive, expressive wordsmith. A true poet. A scribe for the ages. That’s my boy.

So this Sunday I will celebrate my mother with a toast to the heavens. And I will celebrate my own motherhood with heartfelt gratitude to those same heavens … the ones that knew what they were doing and gifted me with Sam. The ones that guided me along the path to guiding him and hopefully nurturing his special gift to this upcoming fruition.

My mother’s was Sam’s biggest fan (if you remove me from the equation). She truly loved to read his words and hear him sing them. And so a few weeks before her death, on one of the last days she got out of bed for any length of time, he and I visited her and he sang for her. The song he had written for her.

It’s called “Mother Of My Mother”.

The torch has been passed. And will still blaze brightly this Sunday.

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What Is The Perfect Relationship?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships. I mean A LOT. Like more than my usual boatload. Not really sure why? Have I ever told you what the three most important things in life are (in my ever so humble opinion) – relationships, relationships and relationships. I’m not just talking about romantic attachments or family alliances either. I’m talking about how we connect with everyone who crosses our path. Friends, colleagues, fellow hobbyists, blood family, adopted family, neighbours and lovers.

And so I got to wondering, if you could only pick one, what would you name as the single most important aspect to a successful relationship? What is that one special thing you yourself could bring to every relationship; that secret (or not) ingredient that would propel the mix to fruitful and rewarding heights.

For some it may be passion. Not just sexual passion but that joyful intensity one might bring to the arts, sport or vacationing.

For some it might be intellectual harmony. It’s pretty hard to have a thriving union when you’re either way smarter or way stupider than your partner.

For some it might be emotional compatibility. If Johnny’s empathetic sensibilities are securely locked away while Mary revels in daily discourse about how she feels, I fear their prospects of flourishing together are fairly slim.

Then what about commonality? I remember my parents counseling me back when I was in my 20s, advising that a similar background and lifestyle would greatly benefit my choice of a life partner. I found out the hard way they were right. I was dating a guy at the time whose family reckoned Christmas Day was an optimal occasion to inflict full-out psychological warfare on each other. I had never in my 28 years experienced a Christmas Day that wasn’t loving and joyful (or at the very least loving and calm) and I can tell you this new “normal” shocked the hell out of me. Needless to say, the guy and I did not last.

And then there’s everybody’s favourite – the ability to compromise. The hardest damn thing to do for sure since far too many of us are more interested in winning the battle than the war. We allow Pride to dictate our intentions, Stubbornness to influence our actions and eventually Hubris to win the day.

So I’m looking at all these elements and they are all vital and viable and I’m still not seeing the ONE big thing that is the key.

Until I do.

You see, when it comes to relationships I think the one thing I am sure we are ALL guilty of is this: WE HAVE AN AGENDA.

Yep. There’s always a desired end-game that leverages every thing we say, every thing we do, every thought we share and every secret we keep. We want something from this relationship, damnit, so we are fully prepared to play our part with award-winning flair to win whatever prize we have conjured.

Case in point: years ago after sustaining my big fat broken heart, I met (online) a lovely man in … Vancouver (why make things simple?). After much communication we decided to meet and explore possibilities. The big difference between J and me was that he decided to meet me and explore possibilities. I, on the other hand, had already (subconsciously) composed the Disney ending. We would meet, fall in love, I would move to Vancouver (already in love with that magnificent city) and we would live happily ever after.

We did meet and sure as shooting fell in lust. And we had fun. And adventures. And stimulating conversations. So I figured we must be in love.

Except we were not. And he knew it.

So there I was going all Disney and he kept trying to reign me in, saying “Vickie, can’t you just live in the moment? In the reality of the moment? Why isn’t that enough for you? Why are you so insistent on painting this picture that actually doesn’t exist? What is so very wrong with living the picture that does, even if it isn’t in technicolor?””

Yeah, thanks. Good questions, J. Where the hell were you when I was growing up with Cinderella and Snow White?

So now, all these years later, I actually get it. I actually have learned (the hard way) that the best relationships are the ones that you are in exactly as they are. The ones where you have no agenda and no pre-planned conclusion. The ones where you always tell the truth because you know you have nothing to lose or gain. The truth is the truth is the fucking truth (one of my favourite sayings). You’re never afraid of saying too much or too little or the wrong thing or even the right thing because guess what? The only thing there is, is the truth. And as long as you are checking in with that every day you truly can do no wrong. Your truth is your truth. You can own it with dignity and share it with confidence because it IS your truth.

I’ve lost a few “friendships” over these past years because apparently my truth did not fit someone else’s agenda. And believe me, each of these “friends” had an agenda. When I stopped fitting it, they stopped wanting me.

The beautiful thing, though, is that for every friendship I have lost, I have gained two. And these new friendships are born of my new reality; there is no agenda. I do not expect you to “act” a certain way or “be” a certain person or even “respond” to me as I might choose. I am simply curious to learn who you are and then curious to see where that knowledge takes us. Eyes wide open. Let the adventure begin.

I am so grateful for the teachers I have met along the way, and those I continue to meet. I’m also hoping that somewhere along that same way I may have imparted a lesson or two.

As for today’s takeaway – take a good close look at all of your relationships and decide if an agenda (on your part, you sure can’t control theirs) exists. And if it does, please banish it to the Disney Kingdom of Bullshit. Bu-bye. Try approaching that same relationship with no program. Just be honest. Speak your truth. Own your truth.

And then let the chips fall where they may.

Doesn’t that sound exciting?

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