Oh, yeah, hey there jealousy

I see pictures on Facebook and Instagram of my friends in their workout or dance attire, sharing their skinned knees and sore feet from dance practice, bruises from pole or sore muscles from working out. I see people flexing and squatting or lifting heavy weights, then sharing stories about blown knees and torn arms and tweaked backs. I hear story after story after story about people with injuries who lift heavy weights, or swim or run dozens of laps/miles, or do push ups and pull ups and other things that put tremendous amounts of stress on their injured shoulder/back/knee/whatever and in the next breath complain about how much it hurts or that they know they shouldn’t do these things but choose to anyways. I hear them complain about how much it sucks.

It frustrates me. It makes me angry. It leaves this gnawing, raw, bitter feeling in the pit of my stomach. It makes me jealous. Oh, yeah, hey there jealousy. I want to shut myself away and put as much distance between myself and my friends because don’t they know how much I would give to be able to complain about bruised knees and rolled ankles? Do they know how much I wish I could lift my arm over my head and do presses? I don’t want to listen to complaints about these things. It makes me want to scream. And shake them. And yell some more.

When I wasn’t able to dance this year, I felt like something had been separated from me, like a piece of what made me, well, special, had somehow become detached and was floating there, within sight but enough out of reach that no matter how far I stretched, or reached, or tried, I couldn’t quite touch it. Watching my dream, my outlet, my escape just bobbing there just out of reach started out feeling like an ache. It was just going to be a couple months, a small bump or setback. I could deal with that. Then it was a few more months, and then more still. I can still see the string holding it getting just a bit longer each day, can feel it sliding out of my grasp just a bit more, but can’t really do anything to stop it from happening.

I hate myself for feeling this way, really. Jealousy eats away at you like a fungus, covering a bit at a time until it spreads, and eventually you are buried under all of it, practically unrecognizable and quite possibly smothering. You feel rotten, because you are. Jealousy makes you feel like a bad person, an angry, hateful person, who just can’t be happy for anyone and wants everyone to be as miserable and unhappy as you are. I’m not that person though, I’m not.

It is show season, competition season, performance time. And I am not there for any of it. As much as I want to be there to support my friends, and watch and cheer from the sidelines, yelling myself hoarse and clapping till my fingers and thighs sting, drinking in the experience and reveling in their awesomeness, I can’t. It hurts, actually hurts, to sit there and watch people doing the things that I should be doing. I should be out there. That should be me.

And it’s not.

It’s ugly, feeling this way. I cry about it, hot, big fat tears of self-pity and want to kick my feet, drop to the floor and scream at the top of my lungs “it’s not fair!!!!”. I’m aware, though, that my feelings and my reactions mean that I care. Deeply, passionately, care.

You know, I know that there are others who are suffering so much more, people who would want to slap me and shake me and ask if I know how good I’ve got it. I just watched cancer as it stole my Dad. At least I am not fighting with a terminal illness, or something life threatening, I tell myself. It’s just pain.

It’s my pain though, and it’s real. It’s constant, literally 24/7. At this point, I can honestly tell you that I don’t really remember what it feels like to have a pain free day, or to only feel pain that I’ve caused myself through a workout or activity. If you’ve never dealt with chronic pain, it’s hard to describe what it’s like. It’s part of my day to day, and is there, no matter what I do. I don’t want sympathy, that’s not why I am sharing this, promise. But I will be honest and say that I am jealous of those who don’t know what it’s like. It is not something I would wish on my worst enemy, but it kills me that people just don’t get it.

Oh, yeah, hey there jealousy.

I hate not wanting to be a part of things because it makes me feel even more alone. I despise feeling like my friends are more on the periphery and that the places that I held in my social groups have been shuffled away to make more room for someone new, someone who is a part of the group when I’m not. I’m jealous of the fact that it’s not me out on stage. I’m bitter at the knowledge that I couldn’t even try. It sucks feeling forgotten and replaced and I don’t want to feel that way but I also can’t help how I feel. I want to feel happy and excited for people who will be performing in their first show or competition, I want to be able to watch and appreciate and not think “that should be me”. I want to be ok with the fact that people have these opportunities to do things that I would kill for, and instead of basking in them, complain and not seem to understand and appreciate. I just don’t always know how. I put on a smile and give words of advice or sympathy, share in the excitement, like pictures and statuses, but it just doesn’t seem to be enough. I want to squash this thing, keep it from taking hold and turning me into something that I am not. I know it hasn’t yet, because I really *am* happy and excited for people. I’m also just really, really sad.

Suck it up, Princess, you might be thinking. Stop being such a jerk and just be happy for someone other than yourself. It’s not your time, that’s passed and gone and you need to let it go. Trust me, I’ve told myself these things a million times, but when that green-eyed monster decides to make his appearance, I’m pretty much powerless to stop him. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this, we are human, after all. It’s easy to want what you can’t or don’t have. It’s natural, even. It’s how we choose to deal with those feelings that can make or break us, at least I think so anyways. It’s ok to have feelings though, and it’s ok to be sad or mad or jealous or feel how you feel. It’s what makes us real, fallible, relatable, human. What’s not ok, though, is to let yourself be eaten alive by those feelings. To get to a place where you can’t feel happy for anyone else, where you are nothing but a ball of rage and hated, and have turned into that thing that you despise. We’ve all been there, and will be again. It’s hard not to beat yourself up about it, but it’s what needs to be done.

So know, I will choose to go, if I can, to shower my people with love and energy and support. Please understand, though, that if I can’t be there, I have my reasons too, and that I am cheering you on or loving on you from afar. If I can be there I will, although I may have to pretend to have some dust in my eye to not seem to be so sad. It’s not you, I promise. It won’t always be this way, I hope, and over time, this emotion and I will come to some kind of understanding with each other. Oh, yeah, hey there jealousy. I see you and I feel you, but I will not let you win. Mark my words.

How do you cope with feelings like this?

We should all follow our dreams

The notion that you can be whatever you want to be when you grow up is a powerful and often defining notion. As a parent, I want to encourage my son to peruse his dreams, find his passions and follow them into something that is interesting to him. I think that following your interests is important in pretty much all aspects of life, actually, and that trickles down to what you choose to watch. No one has the right to tell you what to do or what to be, no matter how badly they think it is a fit for you.

This month, the shows that we’ve been watching on Netflix have been a lot about following your dreams.

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Q’s newest favourite show is Ever After High. The fairy tale characters we all know and love are now all grown up with children of their own. These kids attend a school, and are destined to follow in their parents footsteps. Or are they? A show about choosing to make your own destiny and not just settle for the one that has been chosen for you, Ever After High has some fun characters that Q loves. He has become quite invested in them, and has even made up games to play at school involving some of them. The first episode of Season 2, Spring Unsprung, was released earlier this month and I think we have watched it more than a few times. We can’t wait for more new episodes of this show to be released. He was also very excited to learn that there are books based on the show, so I suppose trip to the bookstore will be in order soon! When I asked him about his favourite characters, the list went on and on, but included Apple White (daughter of Snow), Daring and Dexter Charming (sons of Prince), Kitty Cheshire (daughter of the Cheshire Cat), and Hunter Huntsman (son of the Hunstman). Honestly, I don’t know if he could pick a favourite. I know that some people would consider this to be a “girl” show, but the very notion of being able to be who you are and who you want to be is an important one, and that goes for “girl” and “boy” shows too.

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Another new show this month is Richie Rich. Q loves it because it is about a kid who becomes a self-made trillionaire after turning his veggies into green energy. He reports that it is really funny, and will be watching more episodes soon. It only started last week, though, and so he hasn’t had a lot of time to watch more than the first couple of episodes. One particularly funny bit involved a game of “duck duck hippopotamus” and a hippo suit. He laughed and laughed at it, which is always a sign that a show is a big hit here. I can forsee this being another very popular show in the coming weeks and months. This is a live action show and would probably be great for elementary aged kids and over.

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Another favourite in our house over the years has been Sid the Science Kid. Many a day has been spent watching Sid and his friends Gabriella, May and Gerald learn all about science and the world around them. There is always at least one catchy song, usually sung as a part of the daily school lesson by Teacher Suzie. I will warn you though, parent to parent, that some of these songs will become stuck in your head. In fact, as soon as I started thinking about Sid the Science Kid, the buzzy bee song popped into my head and is currently running through a loop in there. It is a great show that teaches kids so much about scientific concepts on a level that makes sense to them, but isn’t dumbed down too much for them either. We have been huge fans of Sid since Q was little and it is still a favourite for him now. It is a show that I highly recommend for anyone from little wee ones right up to school aged kids.

A couple of shows that are now on my to-watch list, but haven’t gotten around to yet are Anthony Bourdain’s Mind of a Chef and The Art of Flight. Cooking and extreme snowboarding are two things that will appeal to everyone in our house. Sadly (not really), the weather this month has been absolutely beautiful for us, which has led to more time playing our sided than inside watching TV. I will be checking them out for sure, though, and will report back what I find.

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Have you watched any of these shows on Netflix yet? What did you think? Are there any others that you would recommend?

I am a member of the Netflix StreamTeam, and receive perks for sharing our favourite shows with you each month. however, all thoughts and opinions on the shows mentioned are strictly ours, and as always, I am sharing them with you because I truly think and hope you will enjoy them.

Rage, grief, second chances and moving on

It’s been almost 3 months now since my Dad died. A quarter of a year. A season. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him, or think about him but I know that the last thing he would want me to do is not get on with the business of living. I know this because he told me. He wanted me to be happy. He wanted Q to remember the good times with him and not just the end. So I choose to honour that.

Grief is hard though. It sneaks up on you and can slam you into a wall in unexpected moments. Last night, they boys were out having some Daddy/Q bonding time and I was at home watching Glee (don’t laugh, I’ve loved that show frim the start. My music/artsy nerd friends will get me on this). There was a wedding in the show, and it was all so beautiful, so very lovely, and it got me thinking about my own.

My Dad was so proud that day. We had rented a Lincoln Towncar and he drove me to the wedding. I was nervous and full of jitters, and he was full of jokes to keep me laughing for the whole drive. He beamed with pride and happiness all day.

Out of nowhere, the grief and sadness hit me and I started to cry, thinking that he wouldn’t be there to see Q walk down the aisle, or graduate or any of the other big milestones that will come. I sat there on the couch, silent tears rolling down my cheeks. I felt sad, and angry, and oh so cheated. The universe or God had given Dad a second chance after his brain tumour, only to take him from us for good just over a year later.

Inside I raged. Where was the fairness in that? With so many bad people in the world, why take my Dad, a good man who worked hard and loved his family? I know though, that life and death aren’t fair. They simply aren’t. It doesn’t matter if you are good inside or rotten to the core, when your time is up, it’s just…up. You can’t bargain or offer or trade one life for another, and it’s not up to us to decide who gets another day, another year, or even another breath.

Dad was grateful for every second of those extra 17 months that he was given. He truly, with all of his heart, believed that God had given him a second chance at life. He called it his “bonus life”. He lived every day to the fullest, and enjoyed the time that he had been given. When he found out about the cancer, he told me that it was ok, that God had decided that he’d had enough time. I called bull crap on that. Why would someone be given that time, those precious days and weeks and months, only to have it taken for good only a short time later? Why such a short time? Why?

Dad made his peace with it, and I’ve tried hard to do the same. I don’t have the same strength of faith that he did, and maybe that’s why, or maybe it’s not time for me to make my peace. It’s ok for me to feel angry. I had one of the most precious people in my life ripped away. It’s ok to feel sad. There is a whole in my heart that can’t be filled in. It’s ok to feel ripped off. I never imagined a life where my Dad didn’t play a role. I never anticipated that he wouldn’t be around to see Q grow up, become a teenager, then a man with a family of his own. I didn’t see a future where my Dad wasn’t there to continue to grow his relationship with Q, to watch him compete in gymnastics or attend a drum recital.

I do know, though, that he was there for one more family vacation to the beach, one where he was healthy and strong. One where he took Q out into the ocean and taught him how to “surf” on his boogie board, where he helped him with his swimming, and made memories that will last. He was there to make s’mores at our (possibly slightly illegal) campfire on the beach where we roasted marshmallows and watched the sunset over the water. He was there when Q turned 5 and again when he turned 6, neither if which he would have seen without the second chance. He helped Q with his drumming and taught him his to hold the sticks loosely, giving him a foundation that his teacher later remarked was amazing for one so young. He was there for two more Halloweens, and one more Christmas. He was there to see me perform in a show, dancing a routine that I had choreographed myself, with an incredible group of women, a show that I had auditioned to be a part of for 3 years before I was successful. He was there to see Q finish Kindergarten and start Grade 1. He was there to play more games of soccer and hockey and play in the yard, to visit the aquarium and the zoo and to enjoy meals with. For this, I am grateful for his second chance.

I’m starting to come to terms with it, but I’m not there yet. My grief has subsided from a raw, festering wound to one that is starting to scab over around the edges. I still have moments when my grief is strong, so strong and it catches me off guard, at the weirdest moments. I can go from laughing about a happy memory to crying but that’s ok. It means that I loved, and still love, my Dad. I will honour him, and the man that he was by savouring the moments that I have on this earth, with the people that I love. I will tell people I love them, and that I appreciate them and will stand by those who have been there for me. I will not start a fight, but I will finish it, and I will be the winner. I will laugh, and listen to music and tell my stories, because I know that he would want me to. I will love my life and be true to myself, and be the girl he was proud of. I don’t need a second chance to learn that lesson from him. That was a gift he gave to me. I will make my peace with his passing in time, my own time, knowing that although one day the wound will heal, it will leave a scar, and that I am a different person than I was 6 months ago. And that’s ok.