Time to weed out

My nephew came over and tilled my vegetable garden, which makes me one step closer to having things growing again. I love my gardens – both the vegetable and flower – they bring me a lot of happiness and peace.

My only problem is I always want my garden to look like this:

Somehow it never does – but still it makes me happy.

I had a friend talk me off the ledge today and remind me of where I want to put my energy. I was having an episode about the fact that Mr. X has missed 2 months of support payments, knowing that this would have a huge impact on the lives of all three of us. I know the intention is to destroy me, but I think he forgets along the way that it causes damage to the kids as well. I was texting her and saying  that I was angry, frustrated, and disappointed and she said:

Making you judge him and be mad is your remaining relationship with him.
Break up with it
It’s not a good relationship for you
She is right – it is not a good relationship for me. I have extended too much energy towards him in anger because he’s let me down over and over, for years and years. It’s the last bit of energy I give to him, but it’s energy that I could be using for more positive things. He is not going to change, he has shown me time and time again who he really is – it is time I believe it. I have to have faith that the enforcement in place and the court orders will eventually force him to make the required payments. And until then we live as we are – on miracles, and faith.
Having the friends I do – women who have gone through or are going through the same situation and doing it with such dignity and grace – that is happiness.

Every time you make a leap

I talk all the time about the importance of my tribe and I had a moment today where a girlfriend reminded me just how lucky I am to have these people in my life. I was overthinking and sorting out some things and she said:

I’ve got your back every time you make a leap. Whether you succeed or not, I don’t care and at least you’ll learn. I’m like your tiny cheerleading team.

Friends like this – this is what helps me keep my stuff together. I was talking to a lady tonight (who I am in the process of friending and bringing into the tribe – she’s awesome) and we were talking about how it takes a village to keep our lives together. She has a circle of girlfriends who help her as much as mine do me.

I am so grateful that I am back where I have my tribe – whether they are family or friends. Every time I make a leap someone’s got my back, and I’ve got theirs too. And that is happiness.


Sometimes all you need is a little cry 

Jacob and I took Dad’s clothes in to the Mustard Seed this morning and donated them. We all knew that it was the right decision and that Dad would have wholeheartedly approved (although he would have wished we had got on it faster), but that didn’t make the task any more enjoyable. 

Jacob was my GPS guide which meant we argued half the time when we were  lost in a less than enjoyable part of town. At one point we found ourselves in the parking lot of the Alberta Cheese Factory and seriously considered abandoning our mission because…. cheese. But we kept going. 

A really kind lady helped us unload the clothes and take them inside. I was completely ok until it was time to leave, and leave Dad’s things behind. Then I started ugly crying all over the place. The poor woman asked me if I was ok and I had to say no, that those were all my dad’s clothes and I didn’t want to leave them. Then she started crying and said she’d just lost her dad a few months ago and was starting to go through the same things. I responded with my dad has been gone for a year and we are just now able to do this. I wish I could tell you it gets easier but obviously it doesn’t. And then we stood and cried together for a while until I could leave the building. 

After I bawled for a while in the car and was able to finally drive away (poor Jacob) I realized something I didn’t really like. I could and should have walked over and given that poor woman a hug. It probably would have been good for both of us. I have felt lately that I need to be less sensitive to the actions and comments of others, but I obviously need to also be more sensitive to the needs of others. So, less sensitive to how others affect me and more sensitive to how I affect others. Easy peasy. 

Jacob cracked jokes the whole way home and I laughed so hard I had to pull the car over twice. Happiness moment number one. 

I went to an empowering women gathering in Cochrane tonight which was happiness moment number two. The topic of the evening was balance – which is exactly what I’ve been working at bringing back into my space again. I went with two good girlfriends who make up an important part of my tribe. It’s so essential to my wellbeing to have these women to share my struggles and triumphs with – and to share in theirs. These people who have dumped their emotional garbage bags upside down and aren’t afraid or ashamed of the mess it makes and the work it takes to clean it up, they’re my kind of people. 

I didn’t realize how much I needed being in a circle of women like that until I was there. And I learned a quick and fun rebalancing exercise as a bonus. 


A girl day

I went up to Banff this morning and spent some girl time with my cousin. She’s heading off soon on an adventure to Ireland. Heading off to live her dreams, I admire that so much.

One of the great things about family is that we can comfortably pick up in a relationship no matter how long it’s been since we’ve seen each other. Coming from the same stock and having a basic understanding of how we were raised helps bring us together even when time keeps us apart.

I realized today how much I need to get out and spend more time with my girlfriends. I have been reminded recently what an awesome tribe of women I have in my life and I need to celebrate those relationships more. I have been so focused on the kids, making sure they’re feeling safe and secure, that sometimes I forget to make sure that all my emotional needs are filled as well.

My girlfriend time today was a much needed boost to my confidence. I spent so many years being told how useless and pathetic I was, it is so wonderful to now be around people who celebrate who I am (and with whom I can do the same back to them).

With that in mind, I have decided it’s probably time for me to get a personal life as well. Life is meant to be enjoyed and I finally have healed enough that I believe I deserve to have someone in my life who treats me with love and respect.


Matching cousins 

A few years ago these cousins got together at our house and dressed themselves in very cool matching shirts (that their very cool mothers bought for them). They’ve grown up  thousands of miles apart but always managed to maintain a close relationship through visits and FaceTime (FaceTime is great for keeping people connected).

Now that we are back home, all each one has to do is stand on their front porch and yell across the yard to see what the other one is up to. It brings great joy to my heart to watch these two girls outside exploring, giggling, and enjoying each other’s company.

My happiness moment today was that they once again got themselves organized for a matching shirt photo (this time shirts provided by my very cool mom). They’re growing into such beautiful young ladies.  


Tea for Two

I love it when I wake up and know in advance that I will have at least one happiness moment to be excited about in the day. Even though we have been back home for almost a year, I still have a small list of friends with whom I have not been able to have a really good sit down visit. Pathetic I know, but when you combine a really busy life with my being a socially awkward introvert, it’s amazing I ever get together with anyone. I am remembering now that I’m back around my tribe how very important it is for me to actually get out with friends and talk and laugh and share.

This afternoon I met with a dear old friend that I have not had a really good visit with in years – like since our kids were all in diapers. Since coming back I have run into her at the grocery store a couple of times which was a great way to have a quick catch up, but nothing like what sitting down over a cup of tea and sharing will do for the soul.

I’m so grateful for this friendship. We are unlikely friends in that we are different in so many ways. And yet, since the first time I met her we have had this strong bond that has drawn us together. Generally I have a really difficult time opening up with people, and she’s one of those very rare people with whom I know I can safely share absolutely anything.

We had a wonderful two hour tea (which turned out to be much too short), and we shared where our lives have gone over the past 10 years since we last visited. Had we shared back then where we thought we would be right now I don’t think either of us would have predicted the paths our lives have taken. It is such a gift to have someone that you can reflect on your journey with – someone who just listens without judgement and shares their own in the same manner.

We left our visit having decided that the time has come for our families to tighten our bond. Her husband is the godfather of my Jenna and they don’t know each other at all. But, now that we are living in the same town and travelling on similar life paths, all of that can be rebuilt.

There are so many gifts that are coming out of what seemed to be such an uncertain and scary time. It helps me so much to know that I have so many people now with whom I can share my journey with – in happiness and in sorrow. That support of the tribe makes the trip so much more enjoyable. A beautiful happiness moment shared over a cup of tea.


Girlfriend Power

I’m lucky that I come from a family full of girls. I have one (awesome) sister and a ton of girl cousins, so I always had a lot of girls around me to hang out with. I never really thought about how lucky I was to have this built in support system until I moved away from home and for the first time in my life had to start building my own support system from scratch.

In the past 9 years we have moved A LOT. We moved from Alberta to Quebec, Rhode Island (lived in two houses there just to make it more interesting), and now Roanoke – and we are ready to be on the move again. This makes it really difficult to be able to have the time and emotional energy to build up a good support system, but I truly believe it’s one of the most important things I can do.

A few years ago my cousin got married in Italy and I was lucky enough to have been able to fly there to celebrate with her. A big chunk of our large extended family actually was able to go and it was a really fun family time. But, there was one day that really sticks out for me. It wasn’t something that happened with my family, and it wasn’t one of the beautiful sightseeing trips we did. Rather, it was a rather common incident that could have happened anywhere. But it was an incident that made me really stop and think about things and realize “I want that“.

I was walking down a street in Gaeta when I came across two ladies who were in their late 70s or early 80s. They were holding onto each other’s arms and laughing so hard they couldn’t even walk straight on the path. Whatever they were doing they looked like wonderful lifelong friends who were out having a bliss-filled afternoon. I was mesmerized and realized that that was something that was really important to my life.

I actually then went on to have one of those moments with my cousin. We went out on our uncle’s boat and went for a swim in the sea. We were floating along side by side and laughing so hard both of us could barely breathe. We both have looked back on that afternoon as a time when we had wonderful belly laughs and played like children. These are the rare moments that are so important to hold onto.

Little did I know that not too long after that trip I was about to enter what I now consider to be my “dark night of the soul” years. Years when I could have really used some good girlfriends but for various reasons I wasn’t taking advantage of the built in support system I already had.

Fast forward through some really crappy times that included me realizing that in order to have these great friends I so desired, I had to learn how to be a good friend to others. Not as easy as it seemed -still working on it – but now it is a conscious goal of mine.

This summer I was able to go back home and spend a lot of time working on these relationships I’ve had my entire life. Relationships with some pretty fantastic women. Having lived a life where we have been so transient and it was so difficult to make connections made me appreciate it all the more. I spent a great deal of time with my sister and really got to see how she’s flourished as a mom. I spent time with my cousins renewing the ties and realizing that the bonds that we made in our childhood were still as strong. It was so good for my soul to be able to go for a walk with someone whom I knew had known me my entire life – knew my quirks, my humour, my life – and I knew them the same way.

These are the ladies I will be clutching onto when I’m 80 years old. Laughing while we stagger down the street. I firmly believe that the girlfriend friendships are among the most important relationships I will make in my life. I am dedicated now to focusing on building on the ones I already have and making new and wonderful ones.

I also have realized in fostering these friendships that I have other important female friendships in my life that are unique and blessed. I have a mother whom I know would move heaven and earth for me, who is strong and kind at the same time and whom I have learned so much from. I have a daughter who is also incredibly strong and kind and so often like me (a learning experience for both of us). I have aunts who are like extra moms and I know I could turn to them at any time (and I hope they feel the same about me).

The realization that there are these in my life who have complete unconditional love for me and for whom I have absolute unconditional love for is a real blessing. It’s so often easy to feel completely alone, like the struggles I have are mine to bear alone, like I have no one to share the daily joys with. But, it’s important to remember that this is not the case. There is this wonderful tribe of women at my back.

There are many things that will come and go in life, but those friends who know you inside and out, who love and accept you, and who you feel the same about – those are true gems.