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Month: April 2015

Z is for…

Z is for…

Z

 …ze end!

Hah! See how I cheated here?

Initially, I had listed some Z words as potential topics for today – words like Zen or Zinsser (the primer of choice for many undergoing a home reno project!) – but a lovely writer whose blog goes by Jen Seriously made a post that got me thinking about endings instead. The alpha to the omega. The A to the Z. The beginning to the end. To a new beginning.

It seems to me that far too many women are actively fighting and fearing ageing and that – from the viewpoint of my current, lofty crone throne – seems like such a waste of energy. Oh yeah – but I too used to worry about that, for years from time to time.

I remember as a young girl (maybe 7 or so?) looking in the hallway mirror and thinking about being a grown-up and worrying wondering who would marry me. Because at that age, that was all I knew of women’s lives. You grew up, got married and had a family.

Looking in that mirror, I saw that I was not an attractive young girl. I was not small, thin or delicate. My once-blonde hair was now plain brown, except for some golden streaks from a summer spent outdoors, and cut into the shortest, ugliest bowl cut imaginable (thanks Oma!). I was big for my age and quite pudgy – no, fat! My knees and elbows were purple and scabbed from exploring my environment. I told myself that I was so ugly that no one would want to marry me anyways so why was I even spending any time worrying about this? I remember such a sense of relief at that realization. Then I went outside to play, my moment of angst beyond my years quickly replaced with other pursuits.

I did grow from that ugly duckling into some kind of a swan, at puberty. At least, the boys noticed me and some girls were even jealous of me. Yet I still wasted spent far too many hours comparing myself to others and worrying about hanging onto my new attractiveness to the opposite sex.

In brief moments of lucidity during this time, I flashed back to the days when I felt relief and freedom at being ugly and hoped desperately that wondered if I would feel this way again when my hormones waned. I looked forward to this day – when I would be released from what I was sure was this completely hormone-induced craziness – and could go back to being my authentic, I-ain’t-got-time-for-this-BS  girlself. Finally unfettered from my body’s prime imperative to attract attention from the opposite sex in order to procreate, and able to go back to being who I really was – at my core.

That day has been here for some time now, my friends. I did go through a period of rather intense grieving for my lost youthful looks as I prepared to get married again – at age 51 – but that’s over now. I feared I would look silly as a bride and wanted so to turn back the clock, even just for that day. I was once again able to push aside these fears and went outside to play got married in full bridal regalia, regardless. My late husband thought I was beautiful, and I thought him handsome, and that’s all that matters. Each was seeing and loving the whole person, inside and out, and that is where true beauty comes from, anyway.

So – to cut this ramble short and get back to the point – youth ends, the blogging challenge ends, everything ends – but that is how we get to beginnings, again and again.

Now stop worrying. And get outside and play!

The WB

 

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Y is for…

Y is for…

Y

…YES!

So much of my life in the past was dedicated to saying NO. Due to budgetary and/or JD’s OCD-related issues, the default response to almost everything was NO. Sometimes, after consideration, the answer could be changed to YES, but mostly NO was the only response possible.

Now that I am widowed and without dependents or even a pet at the moment, I have decided the default answer to everything is YES.

YES, I would love to accompany you on a trip halfway around the world.

YES, I am available to meet with you at such-and-such a time.

YES, I would love to donate time and effort to this cause.

YES, please book me for this adventure.

YES, I can leave straight from work. See you soon.

YES, please come on over!

To facilitate my new default response, I have significantly upped the monthly contribution to my automatic savings plan. There should always be enough tucked away for a YES, without thought or hesitation.

YES, YES, YES! I can’t get enough of this word. 🙂

What is your default response to out-of-the-blue invitations or changes in plans?

The WB

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X is for…

X is for…

X

…XOXO, Blogging A-Z Challenge!

Two more letters to go after today and the Letter X provides a perfect opportunity to X-press my warm feelings for being given the opportunity and the impetus to create 26 posts in 1 month. I’ve found some great voices and fellow human travellers during this time as I visited other blogs (and you are now subscribed to, in my Feedly!), and maybe even made some new friends. For all of this I am very thankful and appreciative.

I really neglected ye olde blogge during a crazy tough time in my life – my husband’s battle with lung cancer – because he didn’t want people to know he was suffering from this disease.  Even family once removed (cousins, aunts, uncles etc.) had no idea until he died. I also couldn’t write about his worsening OCD, or speak about it to friends and family.

This made blogging extremely difficult. How could I not speak about the 2 huge sources of sadness, anger, fear and frustration in my life? When I did post, it felt so false NOT to be discussing what was really going on. So these strictures very effectively silenced me. For a long time.

I got out of the habit of blogging. Post JD, I knew I should go back to the blog to spew out capture all that I was feeling and thinking. But building enough momentum to get started again was harder than I thought. Enter the A-Z Challenge.

Much as I have enjoyed participating, I know I will not maintain this frequency, going forward. Daily blogging will become a thing of the past, ’till next April. Especially during the next 5 months as I work on completing the requirements for my MBA. But I am committing to writing at least weekly, and hopefully more than that.

Thank you, Blogging A-Z Challenge 2015!

XOXO,

The WB

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W is for…

W is for…

W

…Wooden you want this floor?

The first couple of days of the kitchen/bath/laundry renovation are behind me now and it’s been a bit of a roller coaster already.

One of the discoveries as demolition started was that the kitchen and bathroom still had original wood floors under the ugly linoleum.

When my contractor called me to let me know of the find, the entire linoleum floor had not yet been removed. He wanted me to consider refinishing the wood floor instead of purchasing a new floor. I told him I’d consider it.

But inside I was resisting this idea. I have never cottoned to the idea of wooden floors for a kitchen, any more than to the idea of carpeting in a kitchen. Ugh. Impractical.

But so many people love and have wood in the kitchen. What was I missing? I spent the evening and the next morning visioning my kitchen with a rich, warm wooden floor, full of character from the life it’s lived since 1929.

By the time I next heard from the contractor, I was convinced I needed to save the kitchen floor. I imagined how it would warm up the space and add colour and ambience to my Euopean-looking kitchen. And also pay a nod to the heritage of my home.

Then came the call: the rest of the kitchen floor was in too bad of a shape to consider saving the original wood. There had been a closet (pantry?) at some point and there were too many sections of the floor missing.

Death of the dream...
Death of the dream…or is it???

I had to re-wrap my head around the original black and white checkerboard floor idea. Which was now almost as hard as accepting the idea of a wood floor!

Huh?

I let my flooring guy know to continue to prepare the tiling quote for me. I looked up photos black and white floors on the innernetz and once again I was in total love with my black and white floor vision.

So this morning my contractor showed up with a laundry list of things for me to consider. And, you guessed it, he has figured out a way he thinks he can save the floor. With strips of the same  hardwood carefully removed from the bathroom floor. He’ll have a price for me later on this week.

Remember that sappy 70’s song “Torn Between Two Lovers”? I can’t get it out of my head for some reason. 😉

The WB

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V is for…

V is for…

V

…Vision

Sometimes it takes one little thing to be the catalyst in order for the vision to crystallize out of the murky solution of ideas swirling around in my mind.

This happened to me this week, regarding my renovation. I was out with my contractor, looking for floor and wall tiles for my bathroom. I had nothing firm in my mind…I just knew I wanted something very plain and light for the walls. And I was confident I would find something to match for the floor. Sometimes I’m a “I don’t know what I want but I’ll know it the moment I see it” type person when it comes to decorating my person or my abode.

Well, I saw some slate floor tiles at the first place and I was stopped cold. I suddenly remembered how struck I had been with multi-coloured slate the first time I ever saw it, years ago with JD at Home Depot. So right then I knew I had to have slate on the bathroom floor. A visit to 3 more stores was needed to find the perfect batch of slate – a mix of pinks, pale burgundies, greens and bronzes – that just happened to be on sale.

IMG_1560
I will never tire of admiring this slate.

Now my vision for the bathroom has crystallized to a serene white spa retreat with a showstopping (to me, anyways), fabulously coloured natural slate floor.

And no chandelier over the tub for me anymore – too busy now (plus I’d be fretting over dusting/cleaning it instead of relaxing in my soaker tub). Last night I found a fixture at IKEA more suitable to my new vision (AND budget!):

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Ahhhhhhh…..

I should have remembered that this would happen to me.

In my first home of my own as a newly-single woman in 2000, I pulled all the wall colours for the whole house from a Mucha print poster of a Moet & Chandon champagne ad that I found at a flea market.

$_35

It’s funny how a single object can create a vision for a whole room or even a whole house. But that’s how it works for me. Anyone else decorate in this way?

The WB

 

 

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U is for…

U is for…

U

…Unbelievable

Something unbelievable happened to me yesterday. I am still trying to process it.

Yesterday was Day 1 of my kitchen/bathroom renovation project. The apartment was a nuthouse as demolition started. I took half a day off work to meet with the flooring guy, my countertop guy, my contractor, see the progress, meet with some folks from the City about a revitalization project for the building’s exterior, AND pick out tiles, toilets and vanities. Because if I am taking time off of work to go home and meet someone, I am going to DO. ALL. THE. THINGS.

Between the flooring guy and the City meeting, there was an hour for lunch so the tenants and I went down the street to the roadhouse to fuel up. It was almost 2 pm and I was feeling pretty hollow at this point.

Lunch ran a bit late so I excused myself and walked quickly back up the street to meet with the City people.  As I passed my real estate agent’s office I saw that he was in and gave him a big wave and got one in return.

Then I saw a guy walking towards me in a very bright colour-blocked jacket, with the hood up over his head, and black pants. He wore glasses and had a dark cap pulled low on his forehead. I thought nothing of him until he passed me. I acknowledged his presence with a smile and a nod and was shocked to see my husband’s face (the pre-cancer face, not the gaunt one I last laid eyes on) looking back at me. He even had the same expression on his face that I knew and loved so well. Looking at me with downcast, laughing eyes, and a sly grin as he returned my unspoken greeting. He didn’t slow down, just smiled and kept on going.

That look, that face - except turning the other way as I passed him on my left.
That look, that face (taken on our wedding day -JD looking at me) – except turning the other way as I passed him on my left.

I didn’t stop or turn around. I kept walking because my rational mind said I did not just walk past my dead husband on the street, and I could see the City people already waiting outside the building. So I broke into a little trot.

I told myself to stop freaking out and pull myself together for the meeting. Then afterwards, I told my tenants what had happened to me. Jonathan, who had left the restaurant shortly after me, remarked that he had seen me further up the street rushing to meet the others but he had no recollection of seeing a man in a bright jacket.

Unbelievable.

When my husband became ill, he often told me that if he didn’t make it he would be always watching over me. He also said to look for signs that he was still around. I told him that if he did this, the signs would have to be glaringly obvious and/or dramatic because I have never been sensitive in this way and I likely would miss them, otherwise.

I think this qualifies.

The WB

 

 

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T is for…

T is for…

T

…Tall (in attitude if not in fact)

I used to belong to a mini-Schnauzer who was the biggest little dog ever made.

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Whadda you lookin’ at, hooman?

Whenever Lucy looked in the mirror she saw a 120 lb. Rottweiler looking back at her. I swear.

That dog was afraid of nothing and no one. She demanded expected everyone to adore her (as we all did). Lucy is gone now, waiting for her human family on the other side of the rainbow bridge. But her legend lives on. She was not big or tall, but she certainly was all that (and a bag of chips) in attitude – all 18 pounds of her.

I am a little like that, in one aspect at least. I am quite often surprised when I see myself in photos taken together with others, to find that I am shorter than some of these people.

I get surprised because it certainly seems to me that I am looking these people straight in the eye when we get together. However, a photo clearly demonstrates that they have the height advantage over me. So once again I am reminded that I am not that tall.

But! I have a tall attitude. That counts for something, right?

Does this ever happen to anyone else? Or am I alone in this apparent delusion of height equality?

The WB

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S is for…

S is for…

S

…Satisfaction

Now that I am pretty much in total control of my own life again, I find it a lot easier to achieve satisfaction from whatever tasks I am doing. (Gawd, that makes me sound like a bossy bitch, doesn’t it?!).

I spent many years performing tasks to make JD happy (and if sometimes it made me happy too – BONUS!).  If it sounds like I am more of a giver by nature and JD was a taker (or shall we say: JD’s OCD a taker), you’re probably right. After all, I wasn’t struggling with an anxiety disorder so why couldn’t I be the one to bend? It seemed easier for me to do this and make our life together more pleasant, more satisfying.

Always Usually what JD wanted done was  a tremendous bit of overkill compared to what I thought was needed to get the job done. So certain things took forever or just didn’t get done.

Like changing the bed, as an example – for him it was such an ordeal so he wanted to do it as infrequently as possible. Every piece of bedding needed to be taken outside individually, and shaken thoroughly before it could make to the washer. Comforters had to be aired on the line for a set number of hours. Mattress had to be flipped, etc. etc.

I like to change bedding more frequently than he did, but he wouldn’t let me do it alone – how did he think I managed before he came into my life?? It became a source of frustration to get this done, instead of a pleasant, satisfying chore.

It often got so I couldn’t stand the thought of crawling between those sheets anymore. I used to wait till I was alone in the house for a few hours to strip the bed, wash and dry the bedding, and carefully make up the bed again with the same sheets before he returned. I didn’t use fabric softener and ruffled up the sheets a bit, figuring then he wouldn’t notice and somehow, even with his OCD-fueled hyper-awareness about EVERYTHING, he never did. So his need for all the rituals associated with bed-changing didn’t get tweaked, and my OCD about sleeping in clean sheets got satisfied. A guilt-inducing win-win, for sure.

When I look back on this now, it seems so silly for a strong, adult woman to have to sneak around her own place like this in order to do common household chores. Believe me though, it was better than fighting with JD’s illness night and day. The anxiety disorder always comes first, always wins – in my experience.

I think of these things every time I change the bed, pull out the vacuum, sweep a floor, place my grocery bags (or anything for that matter) on the floor to unpack…all things I used to take for granted and do without thought, and now can do again. All things that drove JD’s OCD crazy.

People usually think of a person with OCD being obsessed with cleaning, and doing it constantly. JD could be like that with hand washing, for certain very important (to him) activities only, such as paperwork. When it came to things like bed-changing, sweeping and vacuuming, he felt this released dust that contaminated everything so these chores were extremely difficult to get done.

These chores, these little things, are so, so satisfying now in their ease of execution. I wonder how long it will be before I take them for granted again.

The WB

 

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R is for…

R is for…

R

…Renovation Madhouse Madness

So, the plans I have been mulling, scheming, tweaking and refining for the past year are about to become reality…in a very big hurry. My apartment renovation is now ON. My kitchen and bathroom will be completely gutted later this week in preparation for their brand new replacements. One of my spare rooms is being fitted to accept my laundry pair and another is getting the long-suffering, water-damaged ceiling fixed so it can become my future office.

I signed the paperwork with my contractor last night and the wheels are now spinning out of control very fast. Like zero to sixty fast. Like I have less than 48 hours to empty out my kitchen, bath, hallway and 2 spare rooms.

And did I mention I have a head that feels like cement and a nose that drips like my soon-to-be trashed leaky kitchen tap?

Isn’t there an adage somewhere that says you are supposed to sweat out a cold? Well my dears, I’ll be sweating up a storm the next couple of nights as I start the descent into Renovation Madness.

The WB

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Q is for…

Q is for…

Q

…Quotation

I have a free app (Transform Your Life) on my phone that delivers a lesson in the form of a quotation every day (at 10:15 am precisely, because I told it to).

Today’s quotation:

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials – Lin Yutang

Today’s lesson:

Much of our lives are spent doing things we don’t want to do that don’t need to be done. Assignment: Today, look for non-essentials you can eliminate. Hint: Look for the non-essentials in habits.

Hello, Facebook – biggest time-suck habit in my universe, currently! And mostly non-essential. How much more could I get done in a week with the 30 minutes a day (at least) I spend with my nose in the ‘Book?

What non-essential habits would you want to eliminate?

The WB

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