Father’s Day Remembrance of My Dad

Dad changing weeks-old me. I feel like there has got to be a “stubby” (old-style beer bottle) somewhere, just out of camera range. Photo taken sometime in August 1959.

My dad has been gone for I think about 20 years now. He tried to be a good dad despite the deck being stacked against him but his demons got the better of him, especially in later years. The rest of the family experienced the brunt of this as I was already out of the house when his drinking got bad. I only witnessed snippets of what my sisters and my mom had to endure, and that was awful.

The dad of my childhood was my shining star – patient, loving, just, wise and good. The dad of my teen and adult years was prejudiced against others; domineering; tortured; addicted to food, coffee, booze and cigarettes; and often downright scary. He was the poster child for a hurtin’ unit. And boy, did he know how to hurt others – especially my mom and sisters; especially when he drank. How did he lose his way so badly?

I know he witnessed things during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II that no human, let alone a child, should ever have seen. He lost his own dad while he was very young and then his mom remarried and this changed his life forever in so many ways. But Dad never talked about his demons and he hated to admit any weakness or that he needed help. He lived a life of denial.

I loved him and it broke my heart when I grew older and realized he was not the dad I thought he was and that we didn’t even share the same values anymore. Did we ever? We must have, or how did I come to value honesty, hard work, helping those in need, being accepting of others, and keeping an open mind? It didn’t just come from Mom. My childhood self remembers that Daddy instilled these values in me too.

I could see the dad of my childhood return when he interacted with my kids. He started to calm down a bit once he retired from full-time work. He stopped smoking and seemed more at peace, at least on the surface. But then he died suddenly of a heart attack at 63 –  the result of years of abusing his body and genetic predisposition.

Now –  with what I have learned by this age about human nature and failings – I often wish Dad was still around, so I could talk to him about what was eating him up inside…and show him compassion and love…and forgiveness for the deep hurts he inflicted on his family.

But that will never happen. And now and forever, I will never really know him.

Rock on,

The WB

 

 

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My Decorating Style can be Described as Pornographic, Apparently

How’s that for a click-baity title, huh?

I have a day-bed in my home office. It makes a handy space for naps or reading or for when I have a houseful of stay-overnight guests.

I found some cute throw pillows at Homesense one day. I loved the designs and the colours so much they came right home with me. Behold:

Colourful, comfortable, and inviting, no?

Mizz J was studying on the day bed one day last week. Oh boy, was she studyingthe pillows.

Mizz J: Mom, did you look at these pillows before you bought them?

Me: Of course! You know how much I love colour and mandala designs!

Mizz J: Did you look closely at them?

Me: Why?

Mizz J: Take a closer look.

Me: OK.

 

 

 

Closeup of Pillow

Me: OK, yeah. I ‘m looking but what am I supposed to be looking at?

Mizz J: Look closer. Much closer.

Mizz J points to a part of the design.

 

 

 

Once seen, never to be unseen.

Me: Huh? What the…!!! OH MY!!!

Cut to Mizz J killing herself laughing at her ol’ mom’s realization of the not-so-hidden design on her pillows.

Hope this post made you laugh as much as I did when I discovered my pillow…er…porn.

Rock on,

The WB

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It’s Race Day but Not for Me (plus other updates)

Back in February I committed to another half-marathon race. I started training for the Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon (again). Things started out well but I began to struggle as temperatures rose and distances increased. I made the decision early in May that I would not participate, as I couldn’t meet the minimum pace required to finish the course in time.

This was a tough decision to make and initially I felt defeated and like a failure. I have successfully trained for and completed 5 half-marathons and I have never had this problem before.

I had no idea why I wasn’t improving despite adhering to my tried and true schedule of training walks. I wondered if maybe I was developing exercise intolerance due to the daily medication I now have to take (thanks TIAs!) or if work was kicking my ass even more than I suspected. What the hell has changed?

I made an appointment to see my doc for a physical and blood tests were ordered. My clever doc ordered a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test to be done along with the “usual suspects” of blood counts, lipid profiles, blood sugar etc. I downloaded my results on Friday and noticed the TSH levels were reported as abnormally high, meaning my thyroid gland may be under-performing. Hmmmm….this explains a lot of symptoms I am experiencing, not just my poor performance on my walks.

I am making an appointment to discuss this with my doc first thing Monday, to see what the next steps are. I do feel a bit better now about my inability to meet the pace requirements for today’s race. I know I made the right call to pull out, even though a part of me wishes I was on the course with all the other runners and walkers right now.

Anyhow, it does seem that indeed something has changed and I will get that investigated further and addressed. Stay tuned!

In other Badass news, I have experienced a setback with my rooftop garden as well. Thanks, Mother Nature.

Remember this idyllic scene?
Immediately after a microburst of high winds and rain.
Rebuilt. Badass Rooftop Garden v. 2.0

Looks like this gardening adventure is going to be a “fall down 7 times; get up 8” type scenario. Still up for the challenge!

In Kayaking news, I took my newest acquisition out for its maiden voyage. (I’m stopping now with kayak purchases, I promise!).

Meet Smokey Robinson! Joining Pink Floyd and the Rev. Al Green in my kayak fleet.
Life is sweet on the river.

When the weather is bad, I play around with my art supplies. I put together a new storage cabinet yesterday for my ever-expanding collection of pencils, crayons, markers, inks and paints.

Bringing order to – and hiding – chaos. Thank you IKEA.

Here’s a sneak peek at a work in progress.

Acrylic Flower of Life design inspired by “dotillism” artist Elspeth McLean.

Rock on,

The WB

 

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Sunday morning Shinrin-yoku*

*Japanese term: forest-bathing

Hello, Yellow Lady’s Slippers
Hello, Dog Violet
Hello, Mayapple
Hello, last of the Trilliums
Hello, Buttercups
Hello, Teasel
Hello, fresh new Fern
Hello, favourite tree trunk
Hello, Celadine
Hello, Frog
It’s a great day to be alive, doncha think?

Rock on,

The WB

 

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Garden Badassery

Once upon a time, a princess lived in a regular home with a garden that she loved to tend to. Unfortunately, she married a crazy wizard who cast a love spell on her which ate up all of her free time. The princess never had time to look after her garden anymore. The garden became just as crazy as the wizard, from missing her touch and shadow. Instead of bringing her joy, the garden made the princess sad and more than a little mad as it reminded the princess of all that she had lost.

Then the wizard sickened and died and the spell was broken, at long last. The princess widow moved from her little place (now a place of sadness) and claimed the wizard’s castle as her home. She spent the next couple of years ridding the castle of the effects of the wizard’s long, crazy rule and became transformed into a badass princess widow as a result.

The princess widow still had no time to devote to a garden even though she was now free to do so. She hadn’t forgotten her love of growing things and vowed one day to create a little garden in her castle aerie, overlooking the village.

And in the spring of 2017, the badass princess widow finally could make this dream come true.

The beginnings of the Badass Rooftop Garden
Copper tag proclaiming that here grows the world’s most expensive pole beans ($3.95 for seeds; $200+ for containers, soil, stakes etc.) 😉
Cherry tomatoes, basil and rosemary
Mint and Lemon Balm, for future fresh leaf teas
Pole Bean Buddha

And she went back to growing things happily ever after.

Rock on,

The WB

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A-Z Reflections of a Survivor

Survivor Badass

Made it through another April and another A-Z Challenge. This is my 3rd year (and 3rd year of successful completion!).

I found having a theme made it easier to write the posts, actually. This was NOT what I was expecting at all. And, also in the NOT what I was expecting department is this: I think I have decided to actually put off retirement for a bit longer than I was thinking at the beginning of the challenge.

I was so sure, that by working through all my little trepidations, by April 30 I would have convinced myself to pull the plug at 60, if not sooner. I also was thinking of moving, once retired, to my lakeside dream abode.

Instead I am (surprise!) undertaking yet another renovation project at Chez Badass – once again investing in my current space and making the people at the bank love me even more than they already do.

This time the foyer (shared space between my tenant and myself) is getting an overhaul, as well as the bathroom on the stair landing, just outside the apartment proper (as a second, guest bathroom). I’m also fixing up the former janitor’s closet off of the foyer, to be a kitchenette for my tenants’ use, and making a bunch of other little improvements too. The ceiling in this closet has to be removed in order to get at the plumbing for the landing bathroom so it seemed the perfect time to do the other improvements to this space as well.

I have to thank my sponsor (Full Time Employment) for making this renovation project happen. 😉

With regards to the lakeside dream home, it could still be a thing. However, I am not as enamoured of the idea as I have been for the past 6 months.

Let’s face it – I have it pretty sweet right here. The library, recreation/seniors centre and many shops that I patronize are all within easy walking distance (5-10 minutes for most). Also within walking distance are the river and some beautiful trails. My building is commercial as well as residential, so I have year-round property maintenance set up. This means I don’t have to cut grass or shovel snow –  just pay others to do it for me (and claim as a legit business expense). And because of the zoning of the property, I can park my future Airstream (drool) or what-have-you trailer right in my driveway, year-round. Some years ago, I checked the bylaws and this was confirmed by the city staff. Public transit is available practically right outside my doorstep. I still get mail delivered right to my door. And I can pick up the City’s free downtown wifi in my office if I had want to.

Pretty much a retiree’s dream set-up, doncha think?

I’m still going to be checking out waterfront real estate options as I ramble around the province, and I’ll be loving the idea of moving to each place under consideration for at least 15 minutes. I may change my mind (yet again) but if I do move, there’s a lot of boxes that need to be checked off first.

I figure now that I can probably get my lake fix via camping, renting a cottage and/or crashing with visiting  Me Too for bit every summer.

Going through this exercise and theme has made me appreciate what I do have even more.

Rock on,

The WB

 

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Z is for Zen – Preparing for a Badass Retirement #AtoZChallenge

Z is for feeling Zen about retiring

Housekeeping: Despite deleting a suspicious plug-in and working with Bluehost to try and fix things, some people are still having trouble commenting on the blog. Thank you for keeping me informed about this problem! I am going to try changing my blog’s theme next, to see if that helps. Some spam is getting through again, as well as some comments but why things are not “normal”, I have no idea! No other blogger seems to be reporting this problem (that I can find) so I continue to be stumped but will keep looking for solutions. It will be a case of trial and (much) error I fear, and I thank you for continuing to read, and especially for your patience.

The informal meaning of the word “Zen” is “relaxed and not worrying about things you cannot change“.

Since I believe that my retirement is almost totally within my ability to change at this point, it’s probably not the right word to describe how I am feeling about things at the end of this blogging challenge.

But I can’t think of a better word – especially a Z word – for today, so Zen it is.

By taking this month to explore, in my mind and on ye olde blogge, my thoughts, feelings, goals and dreams about retiring I am more at peace about it.

I’ve opened all the closet doors and exposed my inner bogeymen to the light while focusing on my April theme. They’re still very much there (fears of  do I have enough money and/or time left to fulfill my retirement dreams mainly – especially the latter one) but they are diminished in size. I’ve acknowledged their existence to myself and decided not to let fear rule my decision making at this time.

I have a clearer picture of the type of retirement I would like to enjoy and feel confident it is do-able. As well, I am confident that I have enough resources – specifically: personal resiliency/adaptability – to deal with the unexpected.

I also feel that if suddenly something (Health, I am looking at you!) changed and I had to take retirement before I was really ready, I would be more informed and prepared than I was a month ago.

For a short while during this month, I was visualizing and mentally preparing for retiring as early as age 60. That’s a little over 2 years away. Having “loved/lived the idea for 15 minutes”, now I am not so sure I’ll be ready by then.

There’s more work I would like to do on my building and right now that is more important to me. Investing in the property has an impact on my retirement plan.  As of today, I am willing to work longer in order to make those improvements happen.

I think I will still retire earlier than 65 and hope that when I do, it will be as totally badass as I envision. I’ll be doing everything within my power to make sure that happens.

Thanks for following this challenge (and my first posting series!) this month. We now return to our regular programming…

Rock on,

The WB

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Y is for Yearning – Preparing for a Badass Retirement #AtoZChallenge

Y is for Yearning for a Badass Retirement

 

Yesterday one of my colleagues retired from my work, after 20 years spent with the organization. She is only 52. One of the post-work goals she shared with us at her party was that she and her husband are going to tour the States, visiting NFL stadiums (and taking in games, I presume). Not something I would ever want to spend my time on, but hey…different strokes for different folks, right?

I had thought that seeing Diane off would have stirred even more yearnings for retirement in my soul than I already have, but surprisingly it didn’t. During this month of researching and writing posts about quitting work for good, I have had so many conflicting feelings about the subject, particularly when. And I am no closer to knowing “when” now than I was back in March.

What I am sure of is this: my yearnings for breaking the (golden) shackles of work are related mainly to not having enough time (or yet, money) to pursue my true “Dabbler” nature. I do love my work but it takes a lot of my energy, especially right now. And that leaves very little left over for other pursuits. And so my yearnings for retirement increase during these times, often dramatically.

I have this painting hanging over my iMac. I gaze at it often, as I am doing right now. It is a wedding gift from JD’s cousin’s husband, a talented painter of landscapes.

Autumn Road by Michael Roth

I can lose myself easily in this painting. I am walking down that northern lane and taking in the beauty of where I am on the path, and anticipating the beautiful views to come, just around the bend.

For me this symbolizes my yearnings for retirement (and more free time for indulging my dabbling). I love where I am now, but also can’t wait to continue the journey and see what’s around the corner.*

Rock on,

The WB

*One of pluses of reaching this age is the ability to hold opposite and conflicting thoughts in one’s brain and finding that completely natural and normal.

 

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X is for Marking the Spot – Preparing for a Badass Retirement #AtoZChallenge

X marks the spot!

X marks the spot on the calendar for quitting work and starting retirement.

Which has not been marked yet – at least, not on any of my calendars!

I did receive my personal code in the mail and have been able to set up my My Service Canada account. I know what I would receive per month if I turned 65 today and what I will receive if I retire at 60, and start my life as an OAP. And I can get a number for any time in between those 5 years. So that is settled!

But instead of being more certain of when I will want to retire as I progress through my theme for this challenge, I find the opposite has happened. For now, I am doubtful I will retire as early as 60. I do think I will want to work a little longer in order to hit certain financial goals, and that’s OK with me.

After all I do enjoy my work, and I am feeling more confident of being able to realize a long, healthy life. Because of this:

A few weeks back, I went again to the neurologist investigating my TIAs of last year, written about here and here. His office called me in for a follow-up. I really like this guy. He seems straight up and kinda cool. Very humble, soft-spoken and has this grey, hippy-ish, mullet-ish, uncontrolled hair. A very wool socks and Birks kind of a guy. Very un-neurologist.

Because I value his opinion, I asked him to tell me frankly – if he was me, knowing what he knows about strokes and risk and having the same medical history as me – how would this affect his decision-making regarding the rest of his life?

He gave it some thought and said “You want to know about your risk, right?” Then he told me that I was probably at lower risk than the general population with respect to having a future stroke, since I had been “caught” and was now on preventative medication.

That made me feel a whole lot better about my prospects and also about having to pop these damn pills daily.

So I am feeling more relaxed about these things and about time in general.

My X will mark the spot sometime between 60 and 65. That is all I think know for now, and that’s OK.

Rock on,

The WB

 

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W is for Wealth – Preparing for a Badass Retirement #AtoZChallenge

W is for Wealth but Wealth is more than just money

 

For me, money is just a small (but important!) part of being “wealthy”.

Even though I wonder if I have enough in savings yet for when I am ready to retire, I feel incredibly wealthy just the same.

Traditionally, definitions of wealth describe it as an “abundance of material possessions or money”.

The Widow Badass definition describes wealth as an “abundance of needs being met”.

These needs include:

  • healthy, loving relationships
  • physical health
  • intellectual stimulation
  • creature comforts, including a cozy home
  • feeling safe
  • feeling valued
  • (no consumer debt and) spare cash in the bank

I know some so-called rich people who are actually quite poor by my definition because certain needs are not being met.

And I know some average or low-income people who possess wealth beyond measure because they have everything BUT a lot of extra dough to throw around.

The key, I think, is recognizing and paying attention to your wealth, otherwise known as “counting your blessings”.

What does it matter how much abundance you possess, if you are too blind to recognize and value it?

Rock on,

The WB

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