happiness

Aladdin

I can barely stand to write this, we lost the beautiful soul that is Aladdin over the weekend.

Within days of dad dying, the kids and I went into Pet Valu in Cochrane to grab food for our dog and cat. The girl saw this beautiful bonded pair waiting to be adopted and immediately asked me if we could adopt them. I said no, partly because we would then have three cats which seemed like too many (haha I had no idea what was coming down the line), and secondly because I didn’t want to make any major decisions while I was grieving.

For the next three months, at least once a week, the girl found one reason or another to take me into the store and look at her cats. I even put her in a camp at the SPCA and told her if she found ONE cat that she liked we would adopt it.

Instead I would pick her up from camp and go see Aladdin and Abu at Pet Valu.

One day, as the weather was changing, a mouse ran across the floor of our old house. On that day I agreed to pick up the duo and our lives changed for the better.

When Aladdin came to live with us, he didn’t know really how to “cat”. They’d been left in an abandoned house with their mother for God knows how long before they were rescued. He didn’t know how to cuddle, he didn’t really know how to accept love.

But he knew how to give love. And he gave it in spades. And as time went on, he learned how to cuddle, found his purr box, and learned to accept the love that we showered on him, in the same way that he loved us.

I had a strict “no cats in my bed” policy. But as soon as Aladdin came to live with us, he decided his spot was on the bed, right between my feet. That is where he’s slept for the last 5.5 years and now there’s a big empty space where he is supposed to be.

If the other cats got into spats with each other, he was the one who came running to make them stop. If one of us was sad, he would come and sit on our lap until we felt better. Wherever he went he radiated love.

Aladdin means “nobility of faith” or “servant of Allah” and so his name is fitting for the soul that he was.

I feel like none of the words I use to describe him do even the littlest bit of justice to celebrate who he was. I am absolutely gutted and devastated by the loss of this gentle fur ball of love.

Aladdin (in front) with his sister Abu
To say they were a bonded pair would be an understatement
He even taught prickly old Ella to love
And they quickly became friends
We had a whole “Aladdin crew” with Abu and Jasmine

I hope he knows how much he was loved.

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happiness

The Next 50 years

Yesterday I marked a half century on this planet. Incredible to me since I’m still trying to figure out how to be an adult, but there you have it.

Seriously though, I am so grateful to be here, to be healthy, and to be finally figuring myself out and learning to let crap go and enjoy life. I’m actually very happy to be 50.

I was reminded of how loved I am yesterday. Birthdays are the best day to be on Facebook for all the wonderful messages. My sister levelled it up one and had friends and family send her letters for me to read which melted my heart (and made me cry a little bit). She and her family also gave me a little robot, and once I figure out how to get it running (old age problems haha), I will be terrorizing my pets with it.

The girl made me a beautiful pendant out of rose quartz. The boy made me his (getting) famous Beef Wellington. A cousin stopped by with “holy crap you’re 50” signs and a present and some flowers. I had a lovely text chat with an aunt, and one today with a “lifer” friend (as she puts it).

I am so grateful for this life. I’ve promised myself that in this next chapter I will be the author of my own story. And I’m excited to write it.

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happiness

Christmas Eve 2020

This afternoon I had a lovely chat with an old family friend. For as long as I can remember our families spent Christmas together, and the season doesn’t feel right unless we touch base even though we’ve not been able to spend the day together for a couple of years.

At the end of our talk I told her how glad I was that she’d called and how it didn’t feel like Christmas unless we’d made contact. She agreed with me and said that was one of the beautiful things about this time of the year – we spend time with the people who we truly know and love and it grounds us and reminds us of who we really are and of what‘s important. I couldn’t agree more.

The monsters and I enjoyed our Christmas Eve tradition (without the church part) by having a fondue pig out and watching their favourite Christmas Movie – Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.

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happiness

Gingerbread Houses 2020

Gingerbread houses have always been a big deal in our house, which is not to be confused with us being good at decorating them. When the kids were little I found a great kit at the Whole Foods in RI that we’d bake and decorate, then later they made ready baked ones which made things easier. Those kits would get packed in our suitcase and travel home to Alberta with us so we could build with cousins and grandparents.

This year the boy had the Millennium Falcon, the girl had an Oreo cookie house, and I had a Troll Doll village. Just in case anyone is wondering, the Troll Doll village is the lowest quality crap house I’ve ever bought.

So, as I was struggling with my house, discovering none of the walls and roofs lined up, that some of them were missing from the box, and that the whole thing was made of such poor quality cookie it kept crumbling, the kids started laughing at my village. At one point I got so frustrated with a house that I may have punched it out (which felt great), and it ended up in the trash. When I was done, the kids announced that it looked like Santa’s crack village.

And that’s when things became fun. The girl made Christmas Trees that looked like the Pillsbury Dough Boy had diarrhea, the boy laid out Santas along the path, unable to get themselves home. Then the girl decided she didn’t want her Oreo house next to Santa’s crack house, so she started building a wall… out of Santas… to protect her home.

By the time we were done, the houses still looked like crap, but we were laughing, covered in icing, and quite pleased with ourselves. For me, this is the magic of the gingerbread house. We have very little skill, and rely on having good quality houses (not this year), and a ton of extra candy to create yards for our houses. But no matter how bad we are, or how bad the houses are, we laugh and truly enjoy the moment.

While the Falcon was easy, it was pretty plain
The crack village and the wall
Apparently this Santa is breaking in looking for candy

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happiness

I’ll be home for Christmas

The announcement of our lockdown has confirmed what I was trying to deny, which is that we will be having a quiet Christmas at home this year.

For years, I would look forward for months (sometimes the whole year) until I could come home for Christmas and see my family, spend time at the ranch, and chill in Grandma’s kitchen. A few years we had our trip extended by bad weather, and the kids and I would spend anywhere from 10 days to 3 weeks without leaving the property. Never once did that feel like we were trapped at home, instead we had the luxury of spending quality time at the place we loved (and where we were loved) most.

So, as I sit and look out the window at the snow, thinking about how we need to get a tree and decorate soon, I’m reminded of how much I love this place, how being home for Christmas was often the only Christmas wish I had, and how grateful that now this is home all of the days of the year.

And, having a quieter Christmas has blessings too. Although we love the sledding and visits with family, and we will miss that part, there is a certain kind of peace one can find in the quiet moments. One of the best (and most emotionally difficult) Christmases was the one the three of us had with mom right before she died. We all stopped and really lived in that moment because we knew there weren’t going to be a lot more of them. Like we learned in Inside Out, joy and sadness need each other, they compliment each other, and we can tolerate them when we are open and present in the moment.

I’ll be home for Christmas
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happiness

Oh My Lord

I waited a full extra day this year before starting the nonstop Christmas music, but it’s now going strong. Really, Christmas is just a time when I can play my favourite song of all time over and over and over and over….

I kid myself that when I put Mary’s Boy Child on repeat that the kids are singing along, but I’m pretty sure it’s just the “Oh My Lord” part, and I don’t think they’re singing. They’re good sports until they get tired of it and then I have daily limits.

It’s been a rough couple of days – no real reason – but spending some time this afternoon on self-care has recharged me. It’s the little moments, like a good song, a cup of tea, time with loved ones.

And of course, this nutbar

Apparently this is how she sleeps now.

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happiness

A beautiful night

This feels like it’s been a long week. School has been challenging for all of us, we are on top of each other, and to top it off the doggies decided to visit the skunk today.

And yet, no matter what goes on in our human lives, the world carries on. One benefit of life being quieter is that there is more time to notice the beauty that God put out in our world.

Tonight the girl and I were making pizza when we had to drop everything and run outside. Not only is it a balmy 9C, but there was a beautiful sunset lighting up the mountains. I am so grateful this is where we call home, I am grateful I love the people I live with, and I’m grateful we are all healthy and safe.

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happiness

A birthday, a ridge walk, and an ethical dilemma

Dad would have turned 80 yesterday. I looked for a photo yesterday to post on Facebook with a memory, and was surprised when I typed “dad” into my photo search at what I found. I was expecting lots of photos of him being the “creek monster” in the water throwing grandkids around, or playing in the snow with delighted children. Instead, this search was full of photos of Dad sitting quietly and reading to “his kids”.

What it really drove home for me was how willing he was to give us what is so precious – the gift of time. Both our parents really valued giving us and their grandkids their time. And at the end of the day, while things can bring a certain level of happiness, the memories of spending time with someone is where it’s really at.

So, with that in mind, my sister and our crews went for a social distance walk along the ridge where dad used to take us. It was a beautiful way to honour him.

I had a moment yesterday morning where I had to reflect on integrity, and deciding between keeping myself safe, or doing the right thing. These were things dad and I used to talk about a lot on our walks, and it seemed so appropriate that it was a choice I was given on his birthday. I decided to do the right thing (although I did sit on it for a while because that temptation to stay safe is a strong one.)

There is a certain comfort that comes over my soul when I choose the right thing. in this instance it helped someone out who I didn’t know, but who really needed it. This was a low danger example of choosing between safety and doing what’s right, but it really highlighted for me that I can’t actually feel safe if I’m not honouring what my soul tells me is best.

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happiness

Lullabies for the puppy

Well, my cute little puppy is now 6 months and she’s at least 60 lbs and only a couple of inches shorter than her 97 lb brother. She’s got teeth like the Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood and talons on her feet that can take on wolves. She’s a ball of both focused and stubborn energy (depending on which part of her heritage she’s channeling), and the most lovable thing you can imagine.

She will go outside and bark to the world that she’s the most ferocious beast, but will come inside and crawl into one of our laps and fall asleep “dog purring”.

Every morning, after her morning bark and run, she needs to start the day with her lullabies. I put on Deva Premal, my puppy crawls up onto the couch beside me, or the big chair if it’s available, lies down and has a lullaby nap. it’s the cutest thing, and it’s amazing how the music calms her. It calms me too.

Stop looking at me, I was napping
Whatcha doin???
I love this face

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happiness

Ride a pony

The last couple of weeks, I’ve switched it up from riding the gentle giant thoroughbred to a cute little grey pony. His colouring reminds me so much of my old horse Rolex, but his size and the fact that he’s half Welsh reminds me of Pirate the wonder pony. It’s so weird to be on a pony who reminds me so much of two of my great past horse loves.

Being on him I can remember how I felt on Pirate, they were probably some of the most free moments I’ve ever had in my life. We were invincible together and still when I look back at some of the crazy things we did and the jumps we cleared, I am in awe of our bond and our combined courage.

At this stage of my life, it’s really good to be reminded of how I felt when I was brave and courageous. I actually don’t think I ever stopped being brave, it just got clouded by anxiety and insecurity (and abuse). Every time I go for a ride, I feel like a more whole, complete version of myself.

Every girl should know the love of a horse

Current Grey Pony
Rolex
Pirate
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