CHOCOLATE AND MORE CHOCOLATE

I really hate cleaning up after lunch. It takes hours. Feels like it anyhow. I’ve just done and finally sitting with my tea. It’s 2:30. Soon the dog will start up. I might just feed her early so I can sit in peace with yesterday’s leftover vegan avocado chocolate cake. It’s got all the icing left on it.

Yesterday, the guy and I decided to check out our new art gallery, the Remai Modern. We missed the Grand Opening when it was free admission. The thing was we forgot that the Santa Claus Parade was on. Who would have thought it would be in November? The main downtown core was blocked off. We could not access where we need to go. We had to drive around the perimeter to get back across to our side of the city to McNally Robinson’s Prairie Ink Restaurant.

When your plans are foiled, you might as well eat. It fixes everything. We outdid ourselves and OD’ed on chocolate. He had a chocolate something latte and Triple Chocolate Fantasy cake. I had a Double Mound latte with chocolate and coconut. I should have had the Key Lime Pie but somehow that didn’t sound right with a latte. I went for the vegan avocado chocolate cake. Well, it was vegan and avocado is a healthy fat. That was my reasoning.

Needless to say, it was all very rich and filling. We normally drink plain coffee and tea, never venturing into places like Starbucks or Tim Horton. In summer we do occasionally go to the Dairy Queen Store on 8th Street. We would indulge in a small hot chocolate fudge sundae each and watch the traffic. That’s our excitement for the evening. Sometimes we walked there with Sheba and share part of a cone.

Feeding Sheba early did little to appease her. After she ate, she wanted to play – with me. It was not enough that I dumped out all her toys for her. I had to give/toss her the rubber chicken to squeal. Otherwise she would just stand over it and bark and bark at me. Clearly she needs discipline and training. But she is 11 and I am about the same in my human years. It is too late for both of us.

The rest of my vegan cake is gone. It is very rich and enough to appease my après-lunch grumpiness. I think the chocolate fix will last me awhile. Sheba is giving me the eye. Time to walk! Now she is giving me the bark. We will have to go. Then all the musts on my list will be done and I will have walked off some of those chocolate calories. It is cold and windy. I will try not to short change her. We will go the whole 9 yards. But first I have to put my long johns, my hat, my wool scarf and my parka. Ready or not, want to or not, here we go! Oh yes, must not forget the doggy bags.

 

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LIVE WISE

Sheba was right on the money this morning. 6:05 am was when I felt her cold wet nose, followed by her little snort. It was still pitch black. But I love that part of the day when Preston Avenue was still asleep. No continuous ribbon of cars and only a few foot traffic.

I’m learning to leave my electronics asleep for awhile, indulging myself turning a few pages of written words. Once I start scrolling, one thing would lead to another. The minutes and then the hours would go by. My head and mind stirred and messed up with bad and/or useless information. Instead,  these mornings I am reading Stephen Jenkinson’s Die Wise, a Manifesto for Sanity and Soul. It is not an easy read. I can only do a few pages at a time. Now I might have to leave it for a few days.

He didn’t tell me anything that I did not know before. What it did was to take me right back to the workplace I have left 4 years ago. The scenes and talks were so familiar. I know he is coming from an authentic place. He has given a voice to those things and feelings that I’ve experienced and breathed for years but couldn’t articulate. I am grateful for that identification. It will help me ‘get over’ and heal from my ‘anxiety’ or ‘trauma’. The book is aptly named. It is a manifesto for sanity and soul. I believe that my anxiety was from the denial of all the feelings I’ve witnessed and experienced in the hallowed halls of the Hospital. But how else could I have carried on working without the denial?

These things were never talked about that I could remember. Yes, there was a Health Office but that was mostly where you report to after you’ve been off sick. It was like the Prinicpal’s Office. Most of the time I felt like a truant child, not deserving but abusing. Health care was for patients only. But then this was my experience. I don’t know about others. We don’t talk about it much. It was the same way with after retirement. I don’t hear about how others fare. I just hear about the travelling. That’s what I hear the most. Are you going to travel? I felt obligated to travel just because I am retired.

What happened to me was I fell apart. Or that’s what it felt like. Oh, I did some travelling. I was busy most if not all the time. I wasn’t just sitting around having a nervous breakdown.  I always took pride in being very functional, no matter what. No one probably knew I was having difficulties except maybe the person living with me. Sheba probably did. She had her own anxiety attacks. They were probably from me. She cushioned me by absorbing some of it. She is my best friend.

I am so lucky to have arrive in this space and time. I can now sit and stay with my feelings without jumping out of my skin. I can acknowledge the good, bad and the ugly. I can sit and read Die Wise – if only a few pages at a time.

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SHEBA, THE HUMAN CANINE

Sheba is not a fool proof dog. She has failed as an alarm on a few occasions, like this morning. She has an annoying habit of waking us up anytime around 6. She would nuzzle with her wet nose me, then him. If that doesn’t work, she would bark and bark till we can’t stand it anymore. I never worry about sleeping in. This morning our alarm didn’t go off till 7:30.

It’s not that we have a job to go to. It’s Saturday. I go swimming Saturday mornings when I can look forward to having a lane to myself at the pool. Imagine my surprise when I saw that it was 7:30. I suppose I could still get to there for 8. It’s a bit harsh to jump out of bed, get dressed, pack my stuff and dash to the car. So I fed the beast and put the kettle on. In the back of my mind I probably had a secret wish of sleeping in. Saturdays I am always torn between the love of the swim and nesting at home. The latter won today. I shelved the guilt and decided to enjoy.

The other time that Sheba flunked her dog alarm duty was this summer. We/our block had a break in. Our garages in the backyard were broken into. The doors were jimmied. The thieves made off with stuff. They even took a bike under the deck which was by our bedroom. The window was opened. Sheba never made a move or whimper. We were quite ignorant till after breakfast when the guy was taking Sheba for her walk. The garage door was wide open. Quite a few things were missing including his cordless drill which he had just purchased to replace the one stolen in his truck.

So nothing is fool proof including a dog who can hear me peeling a banana in a different room. She can see out the back of her head. She sees things happening in the front street when she’s in the back. Yet 2-3 thieves can sneak off with a recumbent tricycle right under her nose. I guess dogs do sleep in and sleep on the job.

I swear sometimes she is more human than canine. Did I tell you about the time she was wracked with anxiety? It was the most awful time. It started slowly. The first time she was humping her pillow. Suddenly she stopped and came running, squealing to me. She was like a child. Then it escalated from occasional bouts to all the time. She wouldn’t eat unless someone was sitting with her by her food bowl. Even then she was checking over her shoulders. She stopped playing with her toys. Then she wouldn’t sleep. She would be standing by our bed in the dark, panting. I tried sleeping with her on the floor but that didn’t work well either. It was time to see the vet.

She checked out physically. Then it was behavioral modification. We kicked her out of the bedroom. We listened to her whine through the closed door. I noticed that she had a lot of dandruff and was shedding a lot. I googled and googled. I started to give her Jamieson Wild Salmon and Fish Omega-3, 1000 mg./day. It took awhile for the dandruff and shedding to improve. Her anxiety was to the point of me ready to medicate her. She must have sensed it. She started sleeping at night. I held my breath. Things improved gradually. She started eating by herself and playing with her toys again. Now, she’s completely her old happy self.

 

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NO WHOLE ENCHILADAS FOR ME

Some things don’t change. Some people never do. I feel myself being triggered  by the same person, in the same way. I could feel the same ire rising in me. She’s still the same! I thought. The next thought was, I am, too! But that doesn’t mean that I have to be. I can change. I just have to pay more attention and not bite. I can go down a different street. I do not have to fall into that same hole in the sidewalk.

Change – it’s easier said than done. Some of our habits are so ingrained. The way we think, act, speak, respond are automatic. Things are out of our mouths and the deeds are done before we know what happened. Then we are sorry – till the next time. The question then is how do we make a change. How many times do we fall through the same hole before we choose a different route?

I’ve spent a year trying to do something different each day, even if that something is thinking differently. But then, that is the thing. It is all in the thinking.  They call it stinking thinking. After a year of trying to be different, I still need reminders, reviews. Life is tricky. There are many holes in the sidewalk. I am not there yet. But where is the there? Is there a there? Or is this a whole life process, like breathing? We have to keep at it, day after day. Life is a process. Sometimes I just hate these sayings. For once I like to say I have arrived. Ya da!

Ever the Google and research girl, I found B.J. Fogg’s Tiny Habits as the fastest and better way to change. I like the sound of no gimmick and tiny. I never found the whole enchilada very appealing except at a buffet. Then you really pay for it, both financially and physically. Life Hack has a comprehensive post on it.  It includes tiny habits for physical and mental health, for work productivity, better relationships, better community and environment. You can check it out and see for yourself.

I hear John Lennon singing This Is Christmas in my head the last few days. It is coming. I’ve made the decision to celebrate it without the gifting. I’ve had the conversation and it’s okay with the family. It will be a change after all these years. Do we really mean it’s really the spirit that counts and not the gifts? Can we celebrate without the buying? Maybe I can, but what about the others? The thoughts are going round and round my head. How am I going to celebrate Christmas this year? What can I do to make it meaningful, to lift my spirit?

Maybe making the decision of not gifting at Christmas is enough this year. I am then left with no running/driving around slippery streets and slopes. There will be just the occasion of Christmas, people, food and John Lennon’s So this is Christmas. How will you celebrate this Christmas?

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SUFFERING THE GUILT

It’s snowing again, big fluffy flakes floating down. Looks like winter is here to stay. I don’t mind. I’m not going anywhere. I’m warm and well fed. I have all the comforts right here at home. I can just hunker down and wait for spring. In the meantime, I can enjoy my cup of tea, a somewhat dried though good cinnamon bun and a bit of cheese. I’ll see if I can tap out 500 words again. Was yesterday just a fluke?

Ah, Sheba is starting again – barking. She’s like an alarm clock. I’ve made her do a ‘down’ but it lasted only a minute. At least she’s quiet. Now if she would stop nuzzling me for her food. We still have half an hour to go. I will see how strong my will is versus hers. Will – that has been a problem for me. I give in too easily. I give in to the guilt of being responsible for everyone’s happiness. I’ve been told that I am not that powerful, that I can’t make everyone happy. Nevertheless, it is difficult to shrug off. I’ve worn that duty call for a long time.

It has been too long wearing that cloak. It’s heavy and weighing me down. I am starting to ask, Hey what about me? It helps. It reminds me that I have been standing and living alone for many years. I have been my own keeper and comforter. Not that I am complaining. It has made me strong and resourceful, seeking my own solutions, finding my own way. I’ve listened to others while seldom heeding my own cries. I feel that I am that one hand that is clapping. And not a sound can be heard.

That is why I love the tap, tap of my keyboard. I can hear myself talking as I watch the letters and words march across the screen. My sorrows and joys are heard. They resound in that heartspace, as Mattie Stepanek would call it. I am listening to me. I am heard. I do matter. I am that stone sending ripples through oceans and the universe – as you are, too.

It is 3:00 pm, that bewitching supper hour for Sheba. I do have the will. Sheba does, too. I have overcome the guilt that I’m making her suffer by waiting. She is not suffering. She can wait. She is a Lab. She always want to eat if I let her. Now that she’s fed, she’s noisily squeaking her rubber chicken and fussing for her walk.

We’ve been for our walk and back. It’s good to move, change my posture, change my space and be in nature. Much easier to go earlier than later. Do the hard stuff first. Then there is no guilt in putting my feet up. The day is done. We’ve trudged through heavy wet snow and shovelled the same. My must-dos along with a few may-dos are crossed out on the to do list.

  • Get up, dress up and show up
  • Post for Navigating Through November on Instagram
  • Draw
  • Write
  • Make yogurt

The rest of the evening is gravy as they say. Wine, anyone?

 

 

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JUST CALL ME HONEST LIL

I have this tune running in my head for several days now. It’s very upbeat, not my usual kind of thing. But it keeps playing on and on. The only words I hear is electric company. It’s nothing I can find on YouTube though there is a show with a theme song called Electric Company. Maybe I wrote it up myself – in my head. I have to turn it off and move on with my words and day.

I am cranky though nothing is wrong. I attribute it to the cold, the layers of clothes I have to ply on, scrunching up my shoulders to ward off the chill, and my naturally sour disposition. Whatever else I do, I do not let myself off the hook. I am like that. One time I turned myself in to my manager for swearing at a staff in the presence of a patient. It did not matter that the patient was confused and probably never heard, or that I abbreviated the oath. What I said was, “F off, Jack.” Jack peed me off because I asked for help and he was too busy visiting.

What followed was a bit of a circus. Because I reported it in a written note, my manager said she had to go through all the channels. I was to get my union rep. Jack was to get his union rep. A date was appointed and we were to meet with some official. I had some instructions from my rep, a lady who would never say any bad words. She told me if I felt like crying in the course of the interview, don’t hold back. Cry, let it out. She also asked me if I felt Jack was racially discriminatory. I said no though I hated how he always sing my name. Lily, Billy, Kabilly, etc. Even if I felt it was racial, I did not want to go there.

The day came for the meeting. The official was a man. He was gruff and curt, asking why I needed help. By the time I had finished explaining that I was doing Jack’s job while he was visiting with another staff and wouldn’t come to my assistance, I was crying. I sobbed that I was angry and huffed out, ” F off, Jack.” My union rep chimed in. “Lily said f off. She did not say fuck off.”

Needless to say, I was speechless with mouth opened along with everyone else. The official man said, “She said f off? We’re done.” Everyone packed up their briefcases and went home. No further mention of more meetings or rehab.

I am cranky today but I did not swear at anyone. I was edgy and irritable. I felt like walking out of my step aerobics this morning but I didn’t. I let electric company played in my head. I wondered why I was feeling like that. Was it the bright lights in the gym, having to gather all the equipment, the violent yucky movie from last night? I don’t know what it was but I talked myself out of behaving badly. That’s the main thing.

 

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CEMENTING WITH HENRY MILLER

It’s a wintery snow falling on cedars kind of a day.  It’s a good day to snuggle up with a hot cuppa. If only Sheba would cooperate, be quiet and snuggle on her bed. No such luck, of course. Come any time after 2 pm, she’s a fussing for food and her walk. It’s early but she likes to push the clock. I’m giving her the silent treatment. So far, so good. Keep my fingers and toes crossed. It’s hard to type that way but…

It’s easy to let a few days and my routine go. Then it gets tricky to get back on track. I’m hoping the feel and rhythm of the keys will bring my flow of thoughts and words back. If not, then I will have to WORK like Henry Miller suggests. Good advice from a great writer. I like his 11 commandments:

  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to ‘Black Spring.’
  3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  5. When you can’t create you can work.
  6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
  7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
  9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
  10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
  11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

Number 10 is easy. I’m not writing or even thinking about writing a book. I’ve given up on NaNoWriMo after a few tries. Writing 50,000 words in 30 days mean I would have to cough up 1700 words a day. I’m a snapshot and punchy lines girl. I have trouble writing a 500 word post. Forget 1700 words! I can revamp and my goal for 500 words/day. See how that goes. Aim a little higher.

Good luck to me. I didn’t make 500 words today, not even with Henry Miller’s help. I’m doing Number 6 though – cementing a little every day. Better luck tomorrow.

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