A Half Century

Age has always been a mostly irrelevant thing in my world. Growing up, I never really gave age much thought. I was never carded at the beer store or at the bar. No one ever asked me for ID when I bought smokes. I always looked older than I was, I think.

Turning 30 didn’t bother me. Turning 40 wasn’t traumatic. Turning 50 is no big deal.

Until…

Until Chuck said to me, “50 years ago today, you were born”. I immediately thought, “Holy FUCK that’s a long time ago”. There was no internet, no smart phones, no GPS, no cell phones, no home computers, no tablets, no microwaves, no digital cameras, no CDs or DVDs…most people didn’t have cable television yet. We all were listening to records or 8 tracks. Life was simpler…more innocent.

But, when I look around at my friends who are 50, they look young. They sound young. They act young. Age, or the idea of age, has dramatically changed. 50 isn’t “old” anymore. Hell, it’s barely even middle-aged any more. I’m lucky to be alive in an age when 50 is still young.

Today was a good day to be 50. The weather was very neat…sun snow showers and mild temperatures. I got a lot done. I found a birthday card from our next door dog (Roland is my most favorite big fluffy black dog in the world) at my door, completed my very first pattern based knitting project (a shawl), started to learn how to knit in the round on double-pointed needles, had a great yoga class, went to the knitting social, had beautiful flowers on the table, and got a Greek dinner and birthday baklava! What more could anyone ask for?

 

 

 

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I’m not okay…

Yesterday was rough. It started at 4 a.m. with the mantra, “I’m not okay. I’m not okay.”, running through my head, getting louder, until I had to get up and try to make it stop.

I tried to knit. I tried to read. I made coffee. I watched Netflix. And every time my concentration broke for a millisecond…there it was. “I’m not okay”.

I tried a grounding exercise to help stem the rising tide of panic and prevent becoming completely overwhelmed. That made me cry. Horrible, gut wrenching, wracking sobs. Every regret was magnified to an impossible size…they came crawling out of their dark, filthy corners to torment me with the knowledge that there is absolutely nothing I can do to fix them…to change them…to make them go away. And they became bigger. Noisier. Darker. Angrier. Hungrier…

I’m not okay.

4 a.m. became 5 a.m. and then 6 a.m. with no relief. But then the mantra changed. It went like this, “I’m not okay, Help me. Help. Help me. I’m not okay. Please help me. I’m not okay. Help. Help. Help me.”. But, in a battle between you and your own brain, sometimes there IS no one to help.

I’m not okay.

We went skiing. The “Get-Outside-It-Will-Cure-Winter-Depression!!” deal. We did a hard track…5 km, a good chunk of it, uphill. Chuck was struggling (I could hear HIM thinking…”I’m not okay”). And, it was my fault. I took the word of strangers that the Blue Trail was lovely. And, now my husband, the love of my life, was struggling. His knee was giving out. His lungs, which were just recovering from a horrible cold, were burning and aching. I did this…it was my fault. He was just coming to like skiing. He was having fun. And I ruined it. I took that away from him. I destroyed it…

We got home and I tried to do a little knitting. I made a mistake and burst into tears, completely swamped with feelings of shame, helplessness, sadness, hopelessness. I was prepared to declare myself totally useless and just go back to sitting on a couch, wasting away, until the summer came back. If I just stayed still…didn’t move…I wouldn’t destroy anything else.

But, I went to see Cathy, who encouraged, and was kind, and helped me fix it (yet again) with no judgement. And, the other women showed up for the knit along, and they talked about how they had to rip out complete sections, and start again, and maybe go down a needle size, and they laughed and shared…and it didn’t seem all that big to them. And, I wondered, how are you okay with this?

I’m not okay.

I went home. I ate oatmeal because I can’t even cook a decent fucking meal. I watched a movie. I went to bed wondering when the mantra would start up again. I slept.

FAST FORWARD…4 A.M. TODAY
Today, I’m okay. Grant me just a minute more of your time to show you the difference:

 

Let me tell you about my day yesterday! It was awesome! It was mild and the sun was shining all morning which was wonderful (it’s been pretty dull and cold the past few weeks). A really good friend of mine, Josie, texted and we made a plan to go skiing. When we picked her up, she had made us her famous “Cappuccino to Go”. Amazing coffee!

Anyway, we headed for Northumberland Forest. They have fantastic trails and since Chuck was almost recovered from his Christmas Cold, the three of us bundled up and went out on the Blue Trail. 5 km of uphill and downhill and around trees. So beautiful and scenic! It was, however, a little much for Chuck since his knee has been acting up, and he’s still got some stuffiness and chest congestion, but he made it through! I’m so proud of him! I don’t think he’ll want to do that specific trail again soon, but maybe by the end of the season he’ll try again!

We stopped for lunch at the Tall Teepee in Alderville, and indulged in burgers and fries. What a treat! We earned it walking up those hills on skis let me tell you! The service at the Teepee is fantastic. One of the women, she has one of those contagious laughs…when she laughs, you have to as well. Totally brightens up your day.

When we got home, I decided to work on my shawl a bit more. It’s a really challenging pattern for a beginner but I’m not giving up! Thank goodness for knit-along evenings, and for Cathy’s patience. I’m learning a LOT (slowly) and the women and men have all been so encouraging and helpful in fixing my slip ups. I am seriously enjoying the company of knitters.

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Because we indulged at lunch, Chuck and I had a really nice, light, comfort-food dinner and watched The Mummy Returns…one of my all time favorite adventures. A perfect end to a perfect day.

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So….

People say, “Perspective is the key!”.  “Positive self-talk is the answer!”.  “Reframing the negative will make it positive!”. “Just say YES!”.

Bullshit. Not in my world. In my world, the key is to just survive the bad days any way I can. And always, always try to remember that this is temporary. Tomorrow, things may look completely different. That’s when the work can be done…not in the middle of a crisis.

If you made it through this far, thanks for sticking with me. I hope you’re doing okay.

8 Days In…

Eight days into the new year and I’m still holding on, even though it must be at least a week since we’ve seen the sun. So far this one single winter, I’ve only been in hibernation mode (not leaving the house at all) for a total of three days. Two of them are today and yesterday. That’s a huge victory for me. In Sudbury I could be housebound for a couple of weeks at a time.

The weather has been pretty brutal with wind chill values in the -35 range. Today, however, the temperature has finally broken, bringing snow, sleet, freezing rain, and rain with the milder weather.

My new knitting obsession has been keeping me occupied and more mentally balanced than I’m accustomed to in the winter. It’s also giving me the gumption to get out of the house and attend the knit-along sessions, as well as the knitting social evening. That’s kind of exciting…knitting as an antidepressant.

For the first time, I’ve started a project that uses a pattern (I think I’ve mentioned this in previous posts) and I seem to go along quite fine for a while and then suddenly lose focus and make a mistake. I’m not up to the “how to recognize and fix your mistakes” part of my learning curve yet. That’s next week. Seriously. I’m taking a class.

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So, while I’m on hold with my shawl until I can get in to see Cathy and have her figure out what I did this time, I’ve been organizing my future projects to see what I’ll need and what I get to learn next! Is anyone else feeling that I may have a problem here? A fantastic, wonderful, colourful, fuzzy, exciting, productive, problem?

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Tomorrow the sun is finally supposed to shine. Chuck is feeling almost better. My cold is gone. That means an early morning skiing adventure, hot cappuccino at our favorite coffee-house, yoga, and up to get my knitting fixed and see how everyone else is coming along with their projects.

Please sun…please do what you’re supposed to tomorrow and show your face. I miss you. Please don’t let me down.

 

My turn

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So, my Fitbit has been giving me shit all day at ten to the hour. It buzzed, and gave me cutsie little passive-agressive messages, trying to motivate me to get up and move around. Making my 10,000 steps today is completely out of the question.

Wanna know why? Can you guess? It’s because I’m SICK. I got Chuck’s stupid cold. I sat here feeling like crap and wishing I could go out and play, and maybe even have a coffee and some social time. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and went out anyway. Since Chuck is starting to feel better today, I took him with me.

Over the past few days the wind here has been out of control…just crazy ugly. The beach has been transformed into a nightmarish ice-land-burg (because I don’t know what else to call it). I would have gone right out to photograph them but I got scared…it felt like walking on an alien planet and I managed to creep myself out pretty bad. However, that may have been a side effect of the cold meds too. Who knows.

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I’m really not happy with the way the photos turned out so I’m going back tomorrow. With any luck I’ll be able to conquer my fear of the iceberg thingies long enough to get the shot I know is out there waiting. You can’t tell from the picture but those things are well over my head…so at least 6 feet…probably closer to 10. And there’s a lot of what could be water in between the beach and them. Ooooh…see? Yeah…I’m freaking myself out all over again and I’m safe in my apartment right now!! GAH!

Chuck, the duck and goose and swan whisperer, finally got out of the truck over by the harbour area. As soon as he started walking over they all came running and flying. There must be someone who goes there and feeds them…I really wish they would stop so that these guys would remember to migrate. Maybe it’s too late for them now.

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We did end up going for coffee after this to warm up. Also, there was another bonus of having a sick day…I got to play with knitting for an extended period of time. I’ve joined a knit-along and we are making shawls. Here’s how mine is coming along. It’s up to 73 stitches wide and I have to get up to 172 before I’m finished. So…a while yet.

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Yay for productive sick days! Tomorrow might be a different story though…stay tuned.

 

January 2nd

January 2nd.

This is the day that New Year resolutions are kept, or abandoned. The day where routines are built, or broken. The day where (non-retail) people go back to work,  resume their pre-holiday season lives, and try to come to grips with all the Christmas and New Year hype and madness being over for another year. It all comes to a screaming, screeching halt today. It’s over.

For me, January 2nd is kind of like emerging from a waking, walking coma. We have just survived one-and-a-half solid months of food making, gift wrapping, carol playing, overeating, panic inducing, merry-making, bank account depleting, forced-manic-cheer…all in the name of…what, exactly?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-Christmas. If that’s your bag, fantastic! Go for it! Enjoy the hell out of it! I’m just really happy to get back to “normal”, which for me, is back to an uninterrupted, task-oriented, routine-based existence.

Up early. Work on the current task for a couple of hours. Break for breakfast. Work some more. Learn something new. Do something physical (today it’s yoga and hopefully a skate). Get some social time in. Create something. Stave off the depression for one more day as I wait for summer to arrive.

A couple of notes…

  • Overnight oats breakfast jars are a wonderful addition to my world. Fast. Easy. Tasty. Nutritious. Perfection…
  • Chuck is still sick but starting to get better. You will see him below making his “poor me” face, and wearing a scarf that I just finished knitting for him. He says it makes him feel better.
  • I love making, and eating, cauliflower soup. Thanks Denise for the recipe. We can’t have it often enough!

Chair Yoga is a deceiving term. I had a class with my instructor Cathy today at Fusion Wellness Studio and, despite its friendly sounding name, Chair Yoga is pretty tough! You are working hard throughout the hour and a half class. Don’t let the name fool you. If you haven’t already tried it…you must.

The wind today has been ferocious. I went down to the beach to try to catch the feeling of the crazy water and waves. It was scary wild. You can see the waves and the sun breaking through the clouds better if you click on the pictures below…they’re just thumbnails.

Knitting people are AWESOME! I am loving being a part of this world, and participating in Knit-Alongs, and knitting social nights at Yarn It!  Everyone who is an experienced knitter is so helpful, and so willing to share their experiences and their time. This particular group has an incredible collective sense of humour as well. And, there seems to always be chocolate chip cookies on hand.

I hope your January 2nd was a wonderful success. Mine was.

2018 – New Year Reckoning

It’s early morning on the first day of 2018.

Chuck is sick. He started running a fever yesterday afternoon and got up to 103° before it broke around 2:30 this morning. He’s finally resting comfortably now.

The kids are heading back for Sudbury today. They had an extended visit this year so we had time to go places, and see things, and just hang out together. We haven’t had that kind of time since Chuck and I moved down here. It’s been good.

I’m sitting here with a quickly cooling cup of coffee in the quiet solitude, doing my annual new year reckoning;  looking over the gains and losses of the previous year,  thinking about how to make dreams come true in the coming year. Believe it or not, one of the ways I think this can be done is by trying, really trying to follow the Simple Formula For Living that has been making the rounds on Facebook this week:

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We had a significant loss this year in my family…my mom passed away. We are a pretty realistic bunch when it comes to death, however, so we try to look at it as a normal, natural, albeit sad, part of living. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I found it comforting to think that mom and dad are now back together again.

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As for gains…there are so many and I can’t begin to recount them. All I can do is be thankful for all of the new friends we’ve made and the old friends we’ve reconnected with, all of the new skills we’ve learned, all of the adventures, the joy, the laughter, the excitement, the love…we have been truly and wonderfully blessed this year.

Thank you to everyone who played a part in making 2017 a year to remember. You are awesome.

Anne, Yvette, Lise…I couldn’t find pictures of you from when you visited (I’m pretty sure they’re on the big machine that the little one is sleeping in front of) but please know that you are all a huge part of my gains this year…thank you for all of your love, support, and friendship.

Welcome 2018. I promise to do my best to make every day of you count.

 

 

Christmas Eve blessings…

Life has been going on pretty much the way it always does. Little ups and little downs. Since Solstice, the days have been passing a little more quickly. I think it’s because I’ve been in a knitting frenzy. I may have developed a new obsession…just so you know.

I am, however, still getting outside most days. Yesterday was a particularly neat one. There’s a little outdoor ice rink just yards away from our apartment, and I went skating for the first time in around 36 years, with two of my best high school friends, Sharon and Mike.

On Sharon’s advice, Chuck got me new skates for Christmas. They are called “comfort skates”, and the name really says it all. For the first time ever, my feet didn’t freeze, and my ankles and knees weren’t sore.

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Picture this…

Christmas Eve day…it’s a bit overcast, windless, and warm for a winter day. On the news, there are predictions of an impending snow storm. Out on the rink, there are tiny little kids being taught to skate, young hockey star hopefuls getting a few laps in, a couple of newlyweds, grandmas and grandpas, teens…and us. Chuck, who outright refuses to put skates on, sits patiently on the sidelines with his camera. He may have been waiting to capture the moment I fell down.

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Sharon and Mike are two of my favorite people. We were in high school together and when Chuck and I moved back to town and met up with them, it felt as if no time had passed. They are still the most in-love, funny, patient, in-tune couple I know. And, they are both still kick-ass skaters.

Thank God for Sharon. Even though she could have lapped me a thousand times, she stuck with me, going slow, and lending me a hand when it looked like I might be going down.

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It was such a good day and reminded me again that Christmas is all about having time with friends and family. I’m blessed to have both…and skates. And a skating rink right outside the door.

From us, to you…a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

The final countdown

One more day until things start getting better!! One more day, one more day, one more day!! In preparation, I let everything go today (I didn’t make it outside at all) because tomorrow is the last day of losing light!

I made potato leek soup to celebrate, AND…

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I think I finally have the seed stitch down pat. Screw YOU seed stitch!! I WIN. Ha!

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There are still going to be dark days ahead as I wait for summer to finally get here, but just the idea of the light fighting back against the darkness…it’s enough to give me hope tonight.

Skiing adventures…take 2

I am so proud of my hubby today…well, every day. But, today I’m proud of him for embarking on the second day of a new adventure and for building a new skill set.

On his first day skiing, there were six falls. Today, only one!

On his first day, we went around the field and to the neighbors. Today, we made it all the way around the field, to the neighbors, down the road, through the forest, and all the way back again.

On his first day, he wasn’t really considering skiing the Northumberland Forest trails but today, we drove in to see what the trails are looking like, and made a plan to head out there tomorrow!

I never thought I’d see Chuck cross-country skiing but there you are! I’m loving every second of it!

Rekindling a love affair

Have you ever loved something so much you thought you couldn’t live without it…and then you did live without it?  Did the memory of it fade and did you end up forgetting that you were ever in love with it to begin with? Today, I realized that I had done just that.

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I LOVED cross-country skiing. It used to bring me hours of joy. I couldn’t wait to get on my skis and set out across the fields. I remember days that were cold and silently still.  The snow crunchy underfoot, gently falling flakes turning the far-away hills into faded blue magic places, where creatures roamed and treasures laid in wait. Ummm…that may have had something to do with my wineskin but…yeah…

And then. Then I moved to Sudbury where the cold was too much for me to handle and winter sports became just a memory. For the past thirty years “outside in the winter” is a phrase that only applied to the time between my front door and my vehicle. Being back home is allowing me to go out in the winter again. It’s cold, but it’s tolerable for me.

So, we grabbed our gear and headed to the farm where we could play in the fields.

For Chuck, who was a competitive downhill skier, this was a whole new world. In the old days he thought cross-country was “boring”. With age, he has become more amenable to the idea. I’m really so happy he was willing to try.

There were six falls in total (one not more than 10 feet into the ski) but my man…he’s a trooper! He didn’t give up and, as we went, he got more and more into the rhythm of what cross-country is all about. I think he may fall in love with it eventually.

We even got over to the neighbor’s place. It’s so pretty and cozy in the winter…it makes me happy.

And just in case you were wondering…this is what I look like after a great day of rekindling a love affair…can’t wait to get out there again tomorrow!

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