2017 in Review and 2018: My Intentions

2017 Review

2017 was a calm and pleasant year in my personal life (as opposed to an exciting yet challenging year in my work life), for which I am so grateful. I wish every year could be 2017. I didn’t lose anyone this past year. (Not in 2016 either, although my mother’s death in late December 2015 was so close to that year that I felt its reverberations throughout those 12 months anyways.)

2017 was the year of REACH (my word). This applied mainly to my creating art. This was the first year that I applied a great deal of focus and effort in this area since I was a teenager. And reach I did! It was difficult to push past my insecurities and inner critic, and just start laying paint down on canvas. It was a reach to allow myself to fail over and over again. This painting in particular (which I can reveal now, as it has gone to its recipient) was very uncomfortable for me to create, and thus a definite REACH:

Acrylic Painting of Horse
Horse, 2017

I went to Mark Grice’s studio in Alton Mills to create this painting. I chose it because I knew it was going to be difficult for me to paint a horse AND in non-horse colours. I’m not good (yet) at so many things artists need to know and excel at, but with Mark’s guidance this painting came together. And Mizzus J loves it. She said it looks like Gavin, one of her two horses. What more can I ask for?

I finished out 2017 with this painting, completed yesterday:

Painting of Sunset on Lake Okanagan
Kelowna Sunset, based on a photograph I took on my last night there.

2018 Intentions

My intention for 2018’s art is to continue on my artist’s journey. I met an artist whose work I admired, at her studio in Bayfield 2 summers ago. When I asked her how to become a better painter, she said something that has stuck with me every since: “Just paint. Everyday.” Simple, no?

I have signed up for another online Mandala art course, hosted by Julie Gibbons: Mandala Days. Unlike Mandala Magic (the course I participated in, in 2017), this course is for creating actual pieces, not art journalling. Which is just up my alley, as I discovered this past year.

Other intentions involve:

  • Blogging – posting at least once per week on Ye Olde Blogge; find other like-minded bloggers/readers (my tribe, as it were) to connect with
  • Reading – increase reading for pleasure – my goal is 50 books. (I’m WidowBadass on GoodReads, in case you want to connect there)
  • Mindfulness – increase mindfulness in my life through activities such as meditation
  • Financial Security – becoming intentional about rapidly paying down the debt I am carrying on Chez Badass – debt I incurred by investing in much-needed improvements over the past 4 years
  • Intuitive Processes – become proficient at Tarot, because:

I believe that it is a good tool to help one develop and strengthen intuition and lead to insights – and help get in touch with yearnings/feelings that are buried deep within one’s self. So I performed a Celtic Cross spread at the Winter Solstice this year, to help me in planning for 2018:

Winter Solstice Tarot Reading 2017
Celtic Cross Spread, for guidance for the coming year

I was really surprised when the cards told me that:

  1. I have to focus on my health or ignore at my peril (5 of Pentacles) Having failed at this many times in the past 4 years, I didn’t want to write it down or even think about it as an intention for the coming year!
  2. I have the inner resources to do this. (Ace of Swords)
  3. I can come up with solutions, and to believe in myself and focus on success. (Page of Wands)
  4. My past is full of grief and regret and the belief I made wrong choices. No, duh. (5 of Cups)
  5. Renewing health; creating harmony and balance is the goal. (Temperance)
  6. Unresolved factor affecting my success – my inner “carb monster” (bondage); doubts that I can succeed. (Devil)
  7. I need to delve into why I haven’t been able to get any traction towards improving my health. (6 of Pentacles)
  8. Be the person others see you as: Adept, Reliable, Steady, Supporting. (King of Pentacles)
  9. Guidance, Hopes and Fears, Beliefs, Values – I am afraid of attracting attention from men as I lose weight and become fitter. I don’t want to have to deal with this. There. I said it. Valid or not, it is a fear of mine. (The Lovers)
  10. The outcome (when I am successful in achieving this goal) – Vibrancy, Energy, Cheerfulness, Self-assurance. (Queen of Wands)

So, an added intention for me for 2018 is to improve my health through self-caring activities including strength, flexibility and stamina-building activities, and nutritious food choices.

My word for 2018 is PERCEIVE. To understand, to become aware, to become conscious, to use intuitive judgement.

How about you? Care to share your thoughts?

Rock on,

The WB

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestby feather

Just Wait and Yule See

I think I may have mentioned on Ye Olde Blogge a time or hundred that every year I struggle with our North American commercialization/celebration of Christmas. It has become much too materialistic and in-your-face for yours truly.

This season has become instead a time of reflection and review and planning for me as the nights get longer and longer. And I love this time of year for that!

TRIGGER WARNING: If someone holding a different opinion than your own could lead to you turning into a Judgey McJudgepants and leaving a nasty comment, please skip over this next section. If you feel you must take a tone with me, your comment may or may not be deleted, depending on how much of a chuckle I get out of it.

Oh sure, I partake in some Christian Christmas rites. It’s part of my upbringing and my history. I put up a tree. I send out cards to friends and family. I re-watch old Christmas movies and sing along to carols. I even do the gift thing, although more and more I am giving gifts that are homemade – gifts of my time and intention. I love to wish people a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year AND I mean it. I do these things because I enjoy them and I like celebrating this season (this month, especially) of long nights and waiting for the sun to return.

I am not a Christian, so there is no religious meaning to my celebration. You won’t find a manger scene at my house. But I will haul out the Seashell Jesus, because I find it amusing. I think I’ll put it next to the picture of Krampus my talented son made for me. For balance. Someday maybe I’ll add a representation of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to the mix, and my triptych of mythical beings will be complete. Ramen!

If you are reading this and a practicing Christian/Jew/Wiccan/Pagan/Hindu/Zoroastrian/Muslim/WhateverReligion, great! You do you. Whatever gives you comfort and meaning is cool with me. Please return the favour.

TRIGGER WARNING OVER.

What I am celebrating at Chez Badass is this: the end of the darkness and the return of the light. Because the longest night – tonight – the winter solstice (the official start of Yule or Yuletide) – is something I can get behind.

I do so love this rock we live on – the natural world – and the turning of the year, and I like to acknowledge this event. And this is the time and the season for me to pause and reflect and set intentions for the next spin around the sun that I am lucky enough to be a part of.

This is nothing new. Humans have been celebrating the solstice since well, we first noticed it was “a thing”. And these Yule celebrations have been co-opted into Christianity and have become integral to the Western celebration called Christmas.

For my particular celebration of the longest night, I will lighting (many, many) candles and finalizing my goals and intentions for the coming year. These include, in no particular order of importance (because they are all important to me):

  • more artistic activity
  • more mindfulness
  • more writing – specifically, more blogging
  • more reading
  • less spending – in order to knock down the demand loan on Chez Badass

I’ll be going into each of these goals in detail in upcoming blog posts. Yule see, hehehe!

I will leave you with this thought – at this special time of year why not remember to:

Keepin’ it real. Keepin’ it Yul, y(ule)-all!

Merry Christmas and Rock on,

The WB

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestby feather

How the Widow Badass Came to Be

When Joanne and I were hiking last weekend, she asked me how I came up with the name for my blog. I then realized that I have never fully explained it, although I briefly touch on this on my About the Widow page.

The Widow Badass was born when my husband died – in the first few minutes of November 14, 2013. She had been conceived in the doctor’s office where we received his diagnosis of lung cancer, a mere 6 months earlier.

My grieving started at that moment of conception, and also my oh-so practical (this sounds so cold, but it’s true) planning for my future without him.

I was working full-time, AND pursuing my MBA online (as was he), at the time of his diagnosis. Due to his insistence, I kept working and studying. He was too weak to work, but he kept studying also. We weren’t supposed to let the cancer “win” by giving these things up.

I fully supported him throughout the course of his disease. I researched cancer relentlessly; went to every appointment and treatment; sat vigil in every hospital room; shopped and cooked and worked and studied and cared and cried and prayed; and then got up after a few hours rest and did it all again.

During my quiet moments in hospital rooms I thought about about and planned my future without him. I knew I would have a huge mess to clean up once he was gone. His OCD-fuelled hoarding had managed to fill up the large building that he owned for the past 20 years, and had spilled into the residence that I owned.

Listening to the hum of the ICU equipment, I estimated it would take me a solid year of working at it every night and weekend just to empty his building of the accumulation of garbage that was his hoard (the last room was emptied just a few week’s shy of a year later).

Drinking my lukewarm Tim Horton’s tea while my husband slept, I decided I would move into his building and erase the 20 years of his neglect at great cost to make it my own (I did).

Watching the nurses take his vitals, I knew it would take a few months to clean up my property enough to make it presentable to sell but I would do that first, then move and start cleaning up all over again (done, and done).

Pacing the hallways, I vowed that at some point during all this I would complete my damn MBA (damn straight, I did).

And so it all happened. The Widow Badass made it all happen. She was/is that aspect of myself that took over and got shit done. And she had no time or patience for anybody’s bullshit. She was all: blinders on, full speed ahead and let’s deal with the wreckage later when the dust settles.

What I didn’t plan for was finding out about my husband’s unfaithfulness to me during the clean-up process, a couple of months after he died. Finding print-outs of emails between him and another woman shook my entire world-view of what I thought my life with him had been about.

But that didn’t stop the Widow Badass. Oh no. She mined the knowledge of that 18 month-long affair like it was diamonds buried in a refuse heap. She used that hurt and rage to further fuel the mission to create a new life.

So now the Widow Badass is here and here to stay. Long may she reign.

Rock on,

The WB

 

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestby feather

When am I going to grow up?

A former spouse of mine once infamously asked me that question.

Back in the late 90s, I had told him that we should take the kids to a music festival together (Edgefest, in Barrie) for the day. The lineup was awesome, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to show the kids what an outdoor rock concert was all about and how to do it safely and enjoyably. They were excited, as there were many groups/artists they liked; I was excited as there were many groups/artists I also liked. But he pooh-poohed all over the idea. He didn’t want to go. And he didn’t want us to go either. I said that’s too bad – we’d love it if you came too, but we were going, regardless. He then asked me when I was going to GROW UP and stop wanting to do “THIS SHIT”. Well, hello?  I thought he had enjoyed going to concerts with me.

He ended up going, grudgingly – only because there was no way he wanted me to be having any kind of fun without him. (If only he knew how much fun the kids and I had when he left us alone to go up north to see his family for a few days!)

By the end of the summer, I had found a townhouse and was moving out, thus ending our 17 year marriage. Not because of this one stupid comment, obviously…but it speaks volumes about why we were no longer suited to be together.

I have been in love with music since I was a babe in arms. My mom told me when she took me to church as an infant tears would stream down my face whenever I heard the organ play. I asked her why and she said, it seemed to her that I was feeling the music on a visceral level, and it had moved me to weep.

Which is pretty cool – and you’d think a kid like that would be a natural musician – but no. I must have been standing behind the door when the Mystery was handing out musical talent ‘cos I got none.

But what I do have is a major love of music and attending live shows. However, as I am getting older it is getting harder to find people (in my demographic) to attend these shows with me. Especially as I continue to listen to and enjoy new and emerging artists, as well as those I grew up with.

My usual concert buddy – my daughter, Mizz J – is in British Columbia this summer – so what’s a badass widow to do, when there are so many great concerts happening all around me?

As much as it is not my preference, I am going to a 3 day outdoor music festival on my own:

Elora Riverfest 2017 Lineup. So excited!

I just have to go, even though I will be going solo. I learned my lesson from missing WayHome last year. There were at least  16 acts I wanted to see but I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. So I missed them all. Never again.

So this got me to thinking: how many major bands/artists have I seen over the years, since I was a teenager? I tried to write them all down.

I feel like I am missing a few, and a few major ones too. Well, I did come of age in the 70s after all.
I’m going to keep a few pages blank so I can keep adding to the list.

So, I guess I am never going to grow up. Sorry, Husband #1. (Not sorry).

I still see people at these shows who look even older than me, so there is that. Trust me, I look. I am not the only one still doing “this shit”.

Rock on,

The WB

SaveSave

SaveSave

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestby feather

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

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestby feather

As a Woman I Behave Like a Prey Animal, Albeit a Badass One

We interrupt today’s Grace and Frankie binge-watching session to bring you the following public service musings, sponsored by WB Industries…

I was recently asked if I ever worried about my safety when out on my solo trail walks and I tossed off a quick “Nope, never think about that when heading out the door.”

Later, (on the trail, where I do my best thinking) I thought about that statement and have come to realize it is undeniably true and untrue AT THE SAME TIME. It’s true that I don’t think about personal safety when I head out the door. (Unless weather conditions are poor, but I think we all know that when women talk about personal safety outdoors it is about just one thing 99.99% of the time. We are talking about being assaulted by others men.)

The reason that I don’t think about this is only because my protection mechanisms are so automatic by now that I don’t even realize I am performing them anymore. Like any good little prey animal, they have become instinctive. They no longer register as conscious thought. So you see I am a bit of a liar, liar pants-on-fire.

This week I paid close attention to these “instincts” when I was performing my training walks for my upcoming half-marathon event. What was I doing subconsciously or barely consciously to prepare for and to execute my walks? The answers were enlightening to me.

First, I never wear headphones. I see a lot of people wear them outdoors when exercising but I will never be one of them. I want to be aware of my surroundings at all times. I want to hear traffic when on the streets and other hikers or bikers or walkers when on the trails. Headphones (or earbuds) have their place. On the treadmill. Where you will (almost) never find me because although a prey animal, I am not a hamster.

Second, I don’t take any valuables with me, except my phone.

Thirdly, I walk stride with purpose. I have always been a fast walker. I (think I, hope I) radiate “don’t fuck with me”-ness while out and about. And I make direct eye contact with every other person on the trail and greet them. So they know I see them.

I got my eyes on you, potential bad person!

This week I even found myself scanning the ground for a weapon (a rock, a pointy stick, whatevs…) when I saw a couple of males standing around on the trail up ahead. Turns out they were preparing to fish from the riverbank but when I first noticed them I didn’t see the fishing gear lying on the ground, just the unusual sight of 2 men just standing a bit off to the side.

Holy crap, I thought, I was actually looking for a weapon to defend myself with! My mind “went there” as soon as I saw those men. Upon reflection, this is not the first time I have automatically done this. I do it ALL. THE. TIME. when faced with anything “unusual” on the trail (or the street for that matter).

Nope, I am not paranoid or a scaredy-cat. I am just a woman living and trying to enjoy life in a rape culture.

When I was on the trail this week thinking and noticing all of these things I remembered the first time I really got scared when out walking by myself. I was a young teenager (13-14?) walking from my house on outskirts of town to my girlfriend’s (in closest subdivision) on a quiet weekend afternoon. I had to walk through an open agricultural/industrial area for close to a kilometer. It being a Sunday in the early 1970s, there were not many cars on this stretch of the road nor many (if any) people working in the factories. And certainly no other people out walking.

And then a white van slowed down beside me. The back doors were open and there were 4 men inside. Two in the front seats and two sitting in the open back. They began to catcall me and coax me to respond and get in the van with them. I ignored them and kept up my steady pace but inside I was frightened to death and trying to figure out how to best escape them if they decided to get out and chase me. Then another car drove by and the van sped up and drove out of sight. I felt immense relief until…the van pulled up beside me again and the harassment continued.

When it happened to me this time, my fear turned to rage instead. I had an umbrella in my right hand (forecast called for rain and I was prepared), so without changing pace or looking at those fools I raised the umbrella and slowly and deliberately tapped it into my open left hand.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Three times.

You wanna mess with me? Well, I won’t go down without one hell of a fight. Consider yourselves warned.

Then I brought the umbrella back down to my side, all the time keeping up my steady pace and looking straight ahead, chin raised defiantly. Message delivered.

Now, I don’t know if this worked (doubtful) or if it was because I was now quickly approaching “civilization” (the subdivision was just ahead), but the van pulled away again and this time didn’t come back.

I didn’t get a license plate number and I didn’t report it. I already knew, even at my tender age, that somehow this incident would be seen as my fault.  (And selfishly I didn’t want my emerging freedoms to be cut off by parents worrying about their daughter being accosted whenever she left the house. )

I had provoked them somehow. How was I dressed? Were my jeans or T-shirt too tight? It was the 70s – everyone wore tight jeans and t-shirts. Maybe there was too much wiggle in my walk. What did I think would happen when out walking by myself? Etc. Etc.

I knew this because these were the thoughts going through my head. Like a good little woman-child of the 1970s, I was trying to figure out what I had done to bring this “attention” on myself.

Thus began my transformation from human being to hyper-aware prey animal (and, let it be said: future badass).

I wonder if men can even begin to comprehend feeling this way when out walking solo, on the trail or anywhere.

Apparently not, because just a couple of days ago I came across a post on Facebook by Backpacker Magazine linking to an article entitled How to Avoid Seeming Creepy to Solo Women Hikers. I made the mistake (I know, I know) of reading the comments section. There were some good comments from men but also a lot of stuff like this gem by a guy named Spear Chucker in response to a woman: If you are getting eaten by a bear, I will keep walking. I won’t even tell anyone.

Yeah, so mature. You hurt my man-baby (thank you Lindy West, for this) feelings so now I am picking up my toys and leaving the sandbox, with a vengeance. WAAAAAH!!!! Take that you woman, you!

Dude, if you are that offended by the article and comments made by a woman, clearly you ARE the target audience.

There were other negative comments and arguments. I’m paraphrasing tremendously of course, but this was the gist:

Women feel scared on the trail when approached by men? Can’t be our fault. What is wrong with these women?

One little rape and they become suspicious, man-hating femi-nazis. LIGHTEN UP, WOMEN.

Get some therapy. The good kind.

And this sparkler: how am I expected to find a date on the trail if I can’t hit on the women I come across there?

The lack of empathy and consideration that someone else’s world-view or experience could not be like yours (and yet strangely enough, VALID) is mind-boggling. Don’t these men have women in their lives? Women that they could ask if this is indeed how they truly feel when alone and outdoors?

I have yet to meet a woman who has not felt anxious or threatened, even for just a few seconds, when outside and alone. The woman who has never rethought a plan to go somewhere because it might not be safe. The woman who has never been catcalled or harassed by men on the street.

If you are that woman, please contact me because I want to know where you have been cloistered all your life. It would make a great retreat, I am thinking.

In the meantime…

Rock your bad selves on,

The WB

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestby feather

What’s Rocked My World This Week – January 29th Edition

For me, the world has become a much scarier place since January 20th. Here in Canada, I am disturbed daily by the things happening south of our border.

It’s hard not to feel powerless at this time. However, the good news is that people are not taking this shit lying down. Nosirree! The Women’s March has started something great – something that promises to continue in other marches and protests. So there’s hope.

For my own mental health, and maybe for yours too – I have decided to round up a listing of things that excited or inspired me this week. Something to change my focus from obsessing solely on all that is going south*, south of the border and other places. Like an online gratitude journal of sorts.

So here goes – the inaugural, “inaugurally-inspired” post:

  1. The amount of silver/white I am seeing in my hair – I have been (not so) patiently waiting for my head of hair to turn a glorious white, as per the females in my family who have come before me. It seems I have inherited my dad’s type of silvering – mostly temples and a sprinkle throughout every where else, unfortunately.
    Lots of white happening here in Temple Land!

    However, lately I have noticed the silvering is accelerating. Excited!!!! I can notice the silver strands quite clearly in my hair’s part now.  It didn’t photograph so well otherwise I’d show you. I am sick of touching-up roots at my temples. I think the time may be right to let it grow out au naturel and see what my real hair really looks like. I may decide to go back to colouring for a bit and try again later. Or I might not. Stay tuned.

  2. Invisalign – Remember that episode of the Simpsons where Lisa is told she needs braces? And she is shown how her teeth will look as she ages? I feel that is going on with my teeth. They seem to get crookeder the older I get. So when I come back from Barbados I am going to begin using Invisalign trays to fix my smile. I have paid off Edward II (my 2nd “Blizzard White” Prius) so those $$ have been freed up for another purpose! Very happy to be starting this journey, even at my advanced age. I’ll be damned if I live the rest of my life with these crooked teeth if I can afford to do something about it. Again, stay tuned. No doubt I’ll have plenty to say as I go through the next 2 years of this particular adventure!

    My car’s namesake. My Edward sparkles just like this when the light hits it. If it’s clean, that is.
  3. Physiotherapy – Since the beginning of the year I have been working steadily away at regaining my long-lost flexibility via yoga and barre exercises. I’m making good progress! However, no matter how diligent I am I know I need more help than this to regain range of motion in my left arm – an ongoing problem I have noticed for about the last 6 months. I was thinking I had strained something and that it would heal itself but that’s not happening. So last week I saw my doctor and got a referral for physiotherapy. So far my homework is a set of exercises to perform 4 times a day. And they hurt! But I am keeping my eye on the prize – 2 fully working arms!
  4. Pussy Hats – I missed taking part in the Women’s March for a multitude of reasons including a long-standing prior commitment for that date and not knowing until way too late there would be Canadian marches to take part in. And I feel really bad about it. So I made myself feel a bit better by at least knitting some pussy hats. I have finished one and am about to finish another (for my cousin). The way things are going, there should be many opportunities to march and wear pussy hats, unfortunately.

    Knitting a pussy hat
    First pussy hat on the needles!
  5. Rogue US Government Employees – I think the rogue or alt Twitter handles/postings that have sprung up in the past week are just brilliant. I can’t stop reading them. Between these and the organized protests, it makes me feel there is some hope of getting through this shit show the US/World is in, after all.
  6. March for Science – If I have any say in the matter, I won’t be missing these upcoming marches. Our last prime minister muzzled our scientists like Trump is doing now. During this dark time in Canada, I was otherwise preoccupied in Crazytown (i.e. OCD/MBA Land) and dealing with a dying husband/subsequent widowhood so I missed out completely on this issue and its protests. Looks like I’m getting a second chance to chime in and make my little voice heard. Why does this shit keep happening?!?!? Rhetorical question…I know why it keeps happening.
  7. My new pan – A couple of weeks ago now I bought a pan at the local Dutch store, very similar to one that I learned to cook in as a young girl. Dutchies call it a “braadpan” – simply put:  a frying pan. It is enameled steel and cooks and cleans like a dream. The high sides keep the mess in. And the heavy lid makes braising a snap. Safe for stove-top or oven use. And induction-friendly. I love it.

    Think Le Creuset – only lighter and 1/3 of the cost. And without the sexy colour choices, unfortunately. Your choice is any colour so long as it’s black, with an ultramarine blue interior.
  8. My new GoPro camera – During Boxing Week, I pulled the trigger on a Hero 5 Black – a camera I had been eyeing for quite a while already. So far I love the features I have been discovering. I’m busy learning how to use it in advance of:
  9. 50 Years of Friendship Trip – by this time next week I will be snorkeling and relaxing with a good friend, down in Barbados. 2017 is the 50th anniversary year of when we first met and became friends – partway through Grade 2  – when she moved to Preston. To commemorate our first 40 years of being friends, we spent a day together at the Elmwood Spa in Toronto. That was a great day, and now this looks to be the makings of a great week.  All I can say about this is WHEE!!!!!! More to come later…

Rock and Resist on,

The WB

*That Canadians like Kellie Leitch and Kevin O’Leary are threatening to bring to our great country as well.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestby feather

The CEO of Everything – A Badass Review

The CEO of Everything, picked up at Costco

I have been CEO of Everything for a little over 3 years now and life has never been better for me.
When I heard about this book, co-written by Gail Vaz-Oxlade and Victoria Ryce, I knew I had to read it.

Ms. Ryce I was not acquainted with, but I have been a fan of Gail’s shows for years and still watch her whenever she pops up on the TV – ‘Til Debt Do Us Part, Princess, Money Moron. Her advice and delivery on money and life never gets old.

If I wanted to be a smart ass, I would just use 9 words to state my review of this book:

THEY NAILED IT. I LIVED IT. GO BUY IT.

Gail had been divorced more than once and Victoria lost her husband (like me, also to lung cancer). Each woman combines and brings their own perspectives to being unexpectedly or expectedly single and how to proceed from there.

Having not only been both divorced and widowed, I was completely engrossed by and resonated with everything these women had to say. They were describing my thoughts, my emotions, my experiences, my decisions. The advice they give is SPOT ON.

They even warn you how you will be perceived by others in your newly single state. Hint: some women will either drop you from their circle of couples or give you the fish eye if you so much as acknowledge their men are in the room. Brace yourself for killer-death rays if their men acknowledge you are in the room.

They didn’t cover how men will treat your newly single state in the book so let the WB tell you there may some surprises in store there as well. Some of your men friends will want to be genuinely helpful and others will want to help themselves, if you know what I mean. Just be on your guard with them all until they prove themselves to be honourable. You will spare yourself some nasty shocks that way.

Gail and Victoria urge newly minted CEOs of Everything to look for creative ways to replace missing employees i.e. stuff your SO used to handle. I would like to add to their sage advice that a good contractor is worth his weight in gold, if there are major projects to be completed at your C-Suite (home). Your contractor will organize and run herd on the trades needed to complete the job, freeing you to keep doing what you need to be doing to keep the lights on. A good contractor will fight for you to get the job done to your satisfaction and it is sad but true that some of the trades won’t listen to your complaints but will hop-to if your contractor so much as blinks. Yes. Even in 2017. Even though you are the client and ultimately paying the bills.

The ladies wrap up the book by urging the CEOs of Everything to pay it forward. Which I have tried to do in the past and will continue to do in the future. I had been told by friends I needed to write a book about what I’ve learned and now, well….thanks for nothing, Gail and Victoria!!! 😉

The book has been written and not by me.

Rock on,

The WB

 

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestby feather

One Year Ago Today We Said Goodbye to Mom

The world lost my badass momma one year ago today.

She had been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma about 15 years before. Most of the 15 ensuing years were high quality. Mom experienced several remissions and used that time to enjoy life to the fullest with her second husband, who she met at a grief class about a year after Dad died. They travelled and camped, and generally enjoyed retired life together.

But eventually the cancer came back with a vengeance and Mom got sicker and sicker.

In the summer of 2015 the doctor advised that we move up the date of my sister’s wedding and host it closer to home, to ensure Mom could attend.

My sister and her new wife flanking Mom and Stepdad on their wedding day. Mom had lost her hair again due to the latest (and last) round of chemotherapy.

 

So I volunteered to host the wedding at my building and what a joyous occasion it was!

Shortly after this Mom made the decision to not proceed with any more chemotherapy. She had had enough, and it was only making her sicker at this point anyway.

Soon she was too ill for her husband to manage so I offered for her to come to stay with me. My newlywed sister made arrangements to take compassionate leave, to be with Mom while I worked and did homework (yes, I was still plugging away at my MBA that fall). And my far flung sister was ready to board a plane and come as soon as she was called, which was a short while later.

All parties agreed to the new plan for Mom and thus we made it happen. A stair lift was installed so Mom could get into and out of my second-floor abode, and we transferred her medical care to my city. Bedding arrangements (and bedrooms) were created to accommodate everyone.

Mom worried about getting into hospice care in a new city. This was something she was considering when living with my stepdad. When I asked if she really wanted to go to hospice when the time came the truthful answer was no. I told her she didn’t ever have to go there – she could die at her new home, my place. She said she would like that, so that is how we proceeded.

The sisters and Mom – the care team

 

Granddaughter Mizz J and her Oma – also part of the care team

 

What a wonderful, awful fall that was – the fall of 2015. The fall of our mom’s dying. Mom had a typical Dutch practical attitude about her impending death. It didn’t bother her and she didn’t want to be a bother to anybody else. She hoped her death happened at a “convenient” time for everyone, so as not to interfere with any Christmas or vacation plans. We joked a lot with her about these wishes. It was freeing for Mom to be able to speak and joke about her dying with us. It was not something her husband could bear to hear, understandably so.

Mom’s sister, My Tante T asked to come over from the Netherlands for a last visit with her sister. This visit was welcomed by all, especially Mom of course.

Mom and her sister

We took the ladies out shopping. Mom had an ultralight collapsible wheelchair at this point which made it possible for her to get out more easily. They had a lot of fun looking for cute clothes at the local mall. This was tiring but also joyful for Mom. She loved getting out while still able, and picked up a couple of pretty tops to wear for hospital appointments and when receiving visitors.

I had bought tickets to take Mom to see a live performance of the Jersey Boys many months back, and we were able to get an extra ticket for her sister at the last moment. Seating had to be changed to accommodate the wheelchair. Tante T also had to change her flight so she could attend the show. A lot of changes but we were so glad it all came together. Mom had wanted to see this show for many, many years.

With a good friend, Mom and Tante at Jersey Boys – waiting for the show to begin

Tante T went backstage at intermission and somehow convinced the Jersey Boys cast to come out to say hi to Mom after the performance. What a woman!

Mom with Jersey Boys cast

During all this time, Stepdad faithfully visited his wife every day.

We treated Mom to pedicures and massages and accompanied her to her cancer clinic appointments. We tried to tempt her with all her favourite foods but her once hearty appetite was quite diminished. Palliative care nurses and personal workers visited many times and provided Mom with a hospital bed and special equipment to assist with bathing. Spiritual care was provided as well, at Mom’s request. We were trained to give Mom her medication intravenously, as the end drew near and her discomfort increased.

Mom loved having visitors and all were welcome to come whenever they wanted to see her.

Death and dying are not easy for anybody. By the 17th of December we were all exhausted as Mom was very restless, day and night. A night nurse was brought in to allow us some shuteye. Mom passed away in the wee hours of the 18th, partway through his shift. We were all at her bedside when it happened.

I was grateful for all of the resources and comforts provided to Mom, and for so many visits from friends and family. It was a blessing to be able to keep her at home as she wanted.

Last picture of Mom and me. Taken ~2.5 days before the end. Mom lost the ability to communicate soon after this photo was taken. Notice the pink polka dotted sheets. Mom wanted to die on pink sheets, she remarked with a smile. What a badass. Wish granted.

My favourite memory of this time is of being called into Mom’s bedroom one night by my sister. Mom was crying and wanted to talk to me. I asked her why she was crying and she said, “I am so happy and I can’t stop crying. It is wonderful to be here surrounded by my family. I feel so completely loved, like I have never felt in my whole life. I’m not crying because I am sad or afraid to be dying. I’m crying from happiness.”

I think of that night almost daily. If there is a way to “do” death and dying correctly, I think that as we came together as a family during that horrible, wonderful fall of 2015, we just might have nailed it.

Rock on,

The WB

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestby feather

How to Create a Badass Woman

When I get a puppy, I spend a lot of time and effort exposing the young dog to every possible alarming (to a dog) situation.

The pup accompanies me in the car on long and short drives. I walk the dog in all types of situations – nature trails, busy city roads, and everything in between. There is lots of time spent around people and other dogs, and other animals if at all possible. The more noise and confusion, the better. I wade into rivers and streams to get the puppy to follow me and lose fear of the water. We go to the groomer and the vet.

The puppy learns it can survive all of these scary situations and gains confidence.

The result of these early months of exposure to new things means this: Congratulations – you have a dog that is afraid of nothing. And…condolences – you have a dog that is afraid of nothing…hehehe. A total badass of a dog.

My favourite breed of dog is the miniature Schnauzer. This is a dog that is already possessed, pound for pound, of more courage than any other breed. Of that I am convinced. I am also 100% certain that when my Lucy looked in a mirror she saw a Rottweiler staring back at her. Miniature Schnauzers are the badasses of the dog world.

The late, great canine badass – Mizz Lucy, in her prime

 

Elderly and in poor health but still a total badass. Mizz Lucy ruling the street from her carriage.

Women, whether they know it or not, are the badass sex. They are the Miniature Schnauzers of humanity.

The patriarchy knows this too. Which is why women are portrayed as weak, illogical and in need of protection. It is why women are chronically underpaid and their work is undervalued. We are so strong that extreme societal measures have to be taken in order for the patriarchy to continue.

We are dressed in pink and frills from the day we are born. We are put in clothes and shoes that limit our movement and our play. We are punished for expressing traits males are praised for. We are praised when we are gentle and nice; when we are “pretty”.  We are ridiculed and put down for being smart and sassy, and for not conforming to society’s expectations of beauty. We are told men’s violence towards us is our fault.

And when we age, we lose our value in this society. But the truth is this: when women age we become even stronger, smarter and sassier.

And this is how we are raised.  This is the culture I was raised in.

I’d like to think things have changed, are changing. Recent, revealing events such as those surrounding the US election are making me doubt this.

Men are victims of this misogynistic culture as well, whether they realize it or not. They need to conform to society’s expectations of male behaviour or face ridicule and persecution. People who present as mixed or opposite or fluid gender…well, we all know how cruel this society can be to them. This is why feminism should be important to all people. It is not “just” about the rights of women. Feminism means ALL PEOPLE ARE EQUAL.

Like my puppy, I have been put through a lot of scary situations and I have survived.

On my journey to becoming a badass widow I have survived:

  • A long first marriage to a verbally abusive, controlling man who did his best to isolate me from my family and friends. Whose chronic bouts of long-term unemployment meant I had to pull the financial weight a lot of the time, in addition to the bulk of the parenting and household duties.
  • More than a year of stalking and harassment by the same man when I exited the marriage after 17 years. A restraining order and multiple visits to jail had to happen before this criminal activity finally stopped. I thought nothing could be worse than remaining married. I was wrong.
  • A second marriage to a man who initially presented as the answer to a prayer. Who wasn’t afraid of my intelligence and work ethic – who praised and complimented me and supported me. Who I thought was a soul mate but instead was a soul-less mate. Who turned out to be mentally ill. Who turned out to be a world-class liar and hypocrite. Who cheated on me. Who put me through OCD hell and severely strained my relationships with family and friends before the cancer finally took him out of our lives.

Somehow I survived these torturous situations and learned and grew.

And now I am fucking fearless. Congratulations Life, you have created a woman who is afraid of nothing. Also condolences, you have created a woman who will no longer be subdued.

And I know I am not alone. Where my dangerous, badass women (and men) at? The world needs us now.

Rock on,

The WB

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestby feather