14 again

I can still see it now. Sitting on my friend Tammy’s bed, with dog-eased copies of Sassy magazine (oh, how I loved Sassy), YM and Seventeen (what, don’t tell me you didn’t read those as a teenager) in her basement bedroom, giggling over whatever boy crush we had at the time and planning our next adventures. The radio on in the background, it always was, and this song comes on. The first notes play and instantly we are Wilson Philips, singing in (what we thought) were perfect harmonies along with the song, pretending to be Carnie, Chyna and Wendy, with their glamorous beach and mountain backgrounds, funky outfits and hats.
“I know this pain, why do you lock yourselves up with these chains…”

I hear the song now and I am transported back to that moment in time, a time when our biggest worries were getting good grades and hanging out with our group of friends at every possible opportunity. A time when we shopped for taffeta dresses with big-ass bows and velvet edging with matching bolo jackets to wear to the big school dances. It was the early ’90’s and pop still ruled with us. Grunge hadn’t yet taken hold, and although we loved the hair metal of bands like Warrant and the pounding but catchy rock of bands like Mötley Crüe, put on some Wilson Philips and that was it. A time of innocence, before life got complicated, and a boyfriend was someone that you did no more than hold hands with and kiss on the cheek. There was no texting, no Facebook or social media. We would spend hours on phone, sometimes falling asleep and waking up still on the line, and picking up where we had last remembered leaving off. A time of sleepovers and bumming around the local lake, feeding ducks and talking about nothing and everything at the same time. A time of just being together because we wanted to be, because we had to be, because it just wasn’t quite the same if we weren’t.

We were a close group of friends, me always the youngest and a grade behind, but still as much a part of the group as anyone. We were all so different but yet so much the same, misfits and people who didn’t quite seem to fit in with everyone, but perfectly with each other. We were creative, artistic, musical, geeky, and totally awesome.

We pretty much travelled as a pack in those years. I still to this day have a fear of spiders because we watched the movie Arachnophobia together and one of the guys did something (though I can’t remember exactly what, it was traumatizing, as only teenaged boys pranks can be). We spent New Year’s Eve together, ordered pizza and made prank phone calls to people we knew. We walked around, sharing cans of pop and once, someone smuggled a can of beer and it was shared, lukewarm and nasty, between 8 teenagers who all thought they were SO cool because they had a sip (literally, a sip each) of beer. Ugh. That still makes me shudder. We log rolled down hills and split our sides watching Ren and Stimpy and singing “Happy Happy Joy Joy”. I will spare you a video of that, because chances are, it is already stuck in your head. You’re welcome. We rode the Greyhound bus into Vancouver to go to Playland, a big amusement park, at the start of every season and a few more times each year, had competitions to see who could ride each ride the most times before quitting or getting sick. As an aside, I will say that I was usually the reigning champion of riding the Zipper, a ride the both spins and turns you upside down, and managed to ride it 36 times in a row before I was too dizzy to stand up anymore. I don’t know if I could even make it through twice now, haha.

They graduated a year before me, and as high school friends do, we went our separate ways. We had some misunderstandings, as can be so rampant in highschool that could have potentially damaged our relationships, and caused us to drift a bit in the later years. After they left school, some of us stayed in touch, and would get info about the others we weren’t in touch with from those who were. Somehow, no matter how far we strayed, they were always there on the periphery of my brain, as only the people who knew you best growing up can be. All it takes, though, is for me to hear those first few notes of “Hold on” for those few minutes of the song, I am transported back, and I am 14 again.

Care to share a musical memory with me?

Small kindnesses can make a big difference

Kindness really does matter. No matter how big or how small, you have no idea how much that kindness might mean to the person you shared it with. This thought has been made obvious to me so many times of the past several weeks. Through my dad’s illness, and especially during his time in the palliative care ward at the hospital, there were so many kindnesses shown to my family that made a big difference.

Things like the tea held in the palliative care lounge every Thursday by the local Hospice society for patients and their families. Every Thursday afternoon, volunteers from Hospice set up in the lounge with real china tea cups and pots which are filled with two different fancy teas. These teas are donated by a local tea shop and change each week. During the 2 weeks that Dad was on that ward (gosh, was it only 2 weeks? It feels like so much longer), my mom and I attended the tea each week and sampled the drinks and treats that were offered. The last week we were there, the sweet treats included chocolate covered candy cane cheesecake bites, 2-bite cinnamon buns and candy canes. All provided free of charge, and with a smile and a word of encouragement. That last Thursday, it wasn’t until the tea time that I even realized that I had not yet eaten anything that day.

Things like Hospice volunteers coming to Dad’s room with bags of Christmas decorations and window stickers to brighten up the room. I helped select some red and white tinsel and a candy cane decoration, as well as stickers for his window that provided a lot of entertainment and happiness to some children ( mine for sure!) who were otherwise experiencing quite a lot of sadness.

Things like giving teddy bears to the children and a hand crocheted afghan to my mom. A rub on the back, a hug, a reminder to eat and stretch and engage in self-care too, the offer of a more comfortable chair or blanket late into the evening. Little things like this might not seem like a big deal to many, but when you are actively in the process of losing someone, things like this matter more than they might seem.

Prior to my dad being moved to the ward, I had no idea what palliative care and hospice did aside from provide a comfortable place for people nearing the end of their lives. I really didn’t know how much more they did, both for the patient and for their loved ones.

I didn’t realize that they would treat my dad like he was the most important person there, as an individual with his own likes and dislikes, and not just as an illness, as I am sure they did with every single other patient in that ward. I didn’t realize that even in a few short weeks, we would get to know the nurses and they us, would be comforted by them, pray with them and share stories of who my dad really was to allow them to see him beyond his illness. I didn’t know that there would be people around offering a listening shoulder or some Kleenex, even when you didn’t know you needed it.

I didn’t know what they did, and now I am a bit embarrassed to say that. It is so much more than a place to spend your final days. It is hope in the darkest days of someone’s life. It is a beam of light, someone to provide a bit of normal in the most abnormal of times, to remind you that life still goes on around you even when it is ending for someone you love. It is something that you hope that you never need, but trust me, it is something that you are thankful for when you do. Small kindnesses really can make a big difference.

For those people who are selfless enough to give of themselves in others time of need, I thank you. From someone who has recently experienced what it can really be about, I thank you. From someone who has benefitted immensely from the care and compassion we were shown during the most difficult time in our lives, I thank you. I know that I would not be strong enough to do what they do, but I am grateful beyond words that there are people who are. Have you ever had any experience with hospice or palliative care, as a volunteer or with a loved one? How did you find it?

Into the Woods – win tickets to the advanced screening!!!

Have you seen the previews for the new Walt Disney Studios movie “Into the Woods” yet? This is a movie that we first heard about a few months ago and have been eagerly anticipating ever since.

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“Into the Woods” is a modern twist on several of the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy)—all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife (James Corden & Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch (Meryl Streep) who has put a curse on them.

In case you haven’t seen a trailer for it yet, watch this. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. It’s worth it.

And a few more pictures to get you excited

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Now for my most favourite part. The fine folks at Walt Disney studios have provided me with passes to share with my readers in 6 different cities! to attend the advanced screening of Into the Woods on December 17th. You will get to see the movie a full week before it is released in theatres! If you are in (or willing to get yourself to) Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa or Toronto, you do not want to miss this. I have 2 double passes up for grabs for Vancouver, and 1 double pass for Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Toronto.

VANCOUVER

Wednesday, December 17th
7:00pm
Cineplex Fifth Avenue Cinemas

CALGARY

Wednesday, December 17th
7:00pm
Cineplex Odeon Sunridge Spectrum Cinemas

EDMONTON

Wednesday, December 17th
7:00pm
Cineplex Odeon North Edmonton Cinemas

WINNIPEG

Wednesday, December 17th
7:30pm
SilverCity Polo Park

TORONTO

Wednesday, December 17th
7:00pm
Cineplex Odeon Varsity Cinemas

OTTAWA

Wednesday, December 17th
7:00pm
SilverCity Gloucester

Just follow the directions on the Rafflecopter form below and leave me a comment telling me about your favourite fairy tale story or character and what it is that you love about it. Also be sure to let me know which city you want to attend. Once you’ve done that, there are plenty of ways to get extra entries. Please be sure to actually complete the entry requirements before you check them off, as there is nothing I hate more than having to disqualify an entry. If you have any questions or need help, let me know.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Being patient

I have alluded to things being tough recently, and that the fragility of life had become so obvious and at the forefront of my mind, but know that I haven’t done a great job at explaining why. Today I said goodbye to my Dad after an all too brief but far too difficult battle with cancer.

I guess that actively going through the painful process of losing someone you love has felt too raw and too personal for me to share up ’till now, but I also know that writing and expressing is a form of therapy for me, and I am going to need to find my way through the jumble of emotions that are currently intermingling with grief in my head. I also know that I am not alone in this struggle.

The words have just not been there for me, but I suspect that once they start, it will be a while before they stop. I have to allow myself space and time to sort and honour my Dad in a way that is real and true. Please be patient with me as I work to sort them out and learn to be patient with myself too.

For now, I want to ask you to hold tight to the ones you love. Call or text or email someone on your mind and tell them you love them. Don’t wait ’till tomorrow, because it is not a guarantee.

Winning and trying your best

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Taken after he competed in his first martial arts tournament. He was a bit disappointed about taking 3rd place but happy to have placed and gotten a trophy. It was hard to see his disappointment and confusion about not placing higher, as he had wanted to win so very badly but I knew it was a good, albeit tough, life lesson.

He worked and trained very hard for it and even though it wasn’t quite what he hoped for, he told me later “It’s ok Mummy. I tried my best to get first place but sometimes life doesn’t go quite how you expect it”. Wise words from a 6 year old. We’d all do well to remember that.