FYI: Rant ahead…
Peculiar, I think, the lack of (or my perception of the lack of) social media engagement around our son joining the Royal Canadian Air Force. Both B and I are standing back in amazement, actually, as close family members like and love and even repost the announcement and NOT ONE of our friends or vast community of connections SAYS ANYTHING. OK, is this a touchy subject?
And, if our other son continues in his area of passion and follows his heart and intellect right into the RCMP, and we announce that with love and excitement (and yes fear and trembling) will we be met with like SILENCE?
It’s not that we need approval. It’s not that we need much at all. But if these friends of ours, these hundreds of connections of ours, care just a wee tiny bit about us, about our family, and know anything at all about the vast wilderness of parenting that includes directionless kids, confused kids, depressed kids, kids that are kids and yet adults, kids that move away and come back, kids that love you and reject you as they are becoming themselves, then surely they know what a BIG DEAL it is when your kid finds their thing, aside from all the fear and trembling and wondering at what that thing is, and just FOLLOW THEIR HEART into SOMETHING BEYOND THEMSELVES.
You don’t have to sign a petition, agree to a set of statements, promise anything at all. You aren’t saying yes to war, or rumours of war. Really, you aren’t! You are just being a supportive and loving friend to us. To me.
Surely this matters? Do I hear an amen?
Or, is it like everything else these days, everything is polarized, under tension, fraught with fear of taking a stance or offending the easily offended. So much so that even liking something may give someone the idea that this inherently means you are agreeing with a philosophy or a world view or something gigantic, when all you are really doing is LIKING your friend’s happiness, joy, sense of relief that their kid is becoming something new. Right?
I don’t know, maybe, like always, I’m just looking for the meaning beyond the matter. I’m wondering WHY?
And I just do, I do feel, like the rest of you maybe also feel, a twinge of hurt, when others are silent.
My son has signed up, signed on, agreed to some pretty heavy stuff that falls under that heading of the greater good. He’s heading to boot camp in less than 2 weeks. And I’m just processing all this as a mom (seasoned with a big dose of mama bear!!). I’ll be processing it for at least the next 5 years, maybe more, because with his decision we become “Military Family”. So your support matters to me, perhaps more than it should. I’m hearing the silence speak, perhaps where it isn’t saying anything at all. Yet more edges on me that require some honing!
As my grandfather used to say, it’s a great life if you don’t weaken!
Hairline Cracks in the Porcelain
I come from a long line
of born-again porcelain cleaners.
I am a tidy-bowl expert,
know the brush and flush, polish and rub,
I am a woman, well trained by her Mother.
I tried to put girlhood aside,
leverage being eldest
to escape wrinkled finger tips,
upright vacuum white-noise,
dusters made of outgrown undershirts.
When I failed, I glared out bungalow windows
at my brothers cutting lawn and raking in the benefits
of shared manliness with Dad.
I had no choice. I was taught
to bake and sew and clean proficiently
as an outcome of my femininity
and with all this evidence to the contrary,
one day my Father says to me,
“All things are equal.
You can be ANYTHING you want to be.”
So fast forward to University
and what appears to be a level field, free
from reference to my body’s ability
to bleed, grow breasts or hips or, God forbid,
bear children. Sex lives, no, thrives
in residence rooms fuelled by pub crawls,
still what we do does not define our gender.
I earn my degree, my idealism, my zeal,
I am a self fulfilling prophecy
with EVERYTHING I want. Until…
Fast forward in circumstance, when Providence
unleashes a mind-boggling-paradigm-shifting-revelation
of upside-down proportion,
all my notions of equality expanded
yet reduced to this…moment…
I am pregnant!
I have to choose?
He and I choose together, and my body
blossoms in maternity, my mind
rises like a phoenix
in blazing pride at this innate ability
to create and birth new beings.
Miracles… of possibility
through pain of labour, first one,
then two boys arrive…my joys.
And then…SHE becomes unexpectedly.
SHE is something else entirely.
SHE unearths renewal in me.
FEMALE…we share more than DNA,
SHE is somehow hope and legacy,
SHE is the epitome of another chance
at THIS…AND…in feminine form.
But who am I to say…
I step back and let her find her way,
that dance, step in only when she asks.
Fast forward with my growing girl
my grateful orbit of her world. She says
“I might get married one day” and with a smile
“maybe I won’t have a child…”
Together we unleash our wild “I AM no man.”
I watch her unveil her spirit, truth,
and the beauty of no shame,
strength and intellect, all hers to claim.
She is powerful in her personhood.
(pardon boasting like I did something good)
Now she is gone from me,
like I knew she would be, eventually,
and we both thank Skype technology
for staying close with video chat.
I ask…I breathe one thing for her constantly…
that SHE finds space enough to BE,
to hold everything, all possibility,
glorious, wide and open…
Lesley-Anne Evans 2016
So, it’s Mental Health Week in Canada… May 6 – 12, 2013. And I feel a lot better about celebrating mental health than I do admitting or even accepting that my annual seasonal disorder (SADD) and hormonal fluctuations post partum and menopausal might be a form of ‘mental illness’. Very hard to come out and say that.
Why is that? Is it because there is still so much bias, misunderstanding and confusion around the phrase? Is it because it’s just really embarrassing to say “I’m mentally ill”? (Why is it easier to say (and only to some
safe people) “I’m feeling a little depressed”?) Must we identify it in order to deal with it properly? And with medication? And with counseling? And with lifestyle changes that include health of body and spirit and mind? And with the support of those who love us? Yes, to all of the above.
Other than that I don’t have a lot of answers, but I’m willing to admit I struggle. I’m willing to cast my lot in with all those who share the burden of psychological angst, times of overwhelming despair, and one who has considered not being as being better than prolonged being in this emotional state.
It’s far too complicated for me to explain my whole story, but know that I live with depression, struggle with coping, and I’ve come to recognize it as part of who I am. I am a person of faith who has doubts and darkness. I have the hope of Jesus and yet live in periods of hopelessness. There are others like me in my family. We talk about it amongst ourselves.
This attempt at bringing a little light into a dark place was written in April 2009.
The glimmer of hope is at the very end. It’s usually like that…
So yesterday about this time, I was feeling like my world was caving in along with my chest. Perhaps a little over-stressed, I had a feeling of unexplainable impending doom that was physical, and it was beginning to take over my mind as well as my body.
I stood by the sink after a morning of trying to get some of my menial household chores done, and heard a voice in my head say, “maybe you should just go and check yourself into the hospital”, as clear as day. So, I thought about that for a little while, wondering how that experience might pan out for me?
Hi, I’m here to check myself in.
Well, it’s that I just can’t seem to pull myself up by the bootstraps, you know. I can’t seem to find my stiff upper lip and suck it up princess, if you know what I mean.
I’m sorry Ma’am, I don’t know what you mean. What precisely are your symptoms?
I guess you could say that I feel like there’s nobody I can talk to about how I feel, and that I feel like I’m too much for everyone that I might have talked to if I could have found someone.
Are you in any pain?
Well, if this pressure on my chest, and the heavy thing that’s sitting on my head counts, then yes, I guess I’m in pain. But not a sharp stabbing pain, more like a dull repetitive one.
Are you on any medications?
No, and I don’t really want to be, and that’s why I’m even afraid to tell anyone how I really feel in case they suggest drugs might be the answer. I guess there’s the ‘Maccaroot’ supplements I’m taking… to balance and energize me… but I don’t think that’s working.
So, what precisely can we do for you ma’am?
Well, I thought maybe I could just sign in and curl up in an empty bed somewhere until I feel better able to cope, find some energy again, and maybe find a friend that I could talk to. Would that be OK……?
At this point I realize that my idea is lame, and I haven’t got a chance of convincing medical staff, nurses or doctors that there’s something wrong with me any more than I did two days ago when I tried to explain myself to my husband.
So, I continue to stand by the kitchen sink until the phone rings, goes to the answering machine, and I recognize the voice as someone who might just be able to relate to part of how I’m feeling and I dry my hands on the towel and pick up the phone.
I’m sitting on my couch and the sounds of dishwasher and kids playing ping pong and dog snoozing are all I hear. I didn’t go to the church with walls and ceiling today. Instead, I stayed home and made banana pancakes for my two sons. We talked at the table. It was very good. Why not celebrate God is Love right here and now.
I’m reminded of Mies Van Der Rohe, of his “less is more” approach, and how I’ve got to be reminded of that over and over again when Spring hits and soccer and must do’s overwhelm my preferred life of simplicity. Personal time, family time, down time, meal time, is all affected. I have to seize each opportunity as it comes. Rather than live by obligation or should do’s, do what my heart says. See the beauty in the moment, like the inside of a cabbage I cut open and discovered the beauty above.
I also found this… a reflection I wrote a while ago on an old blog… but think I needed to read again today. For permission. For confirmation. For grace. For the reminder that;
I’m also a simple woman with a sphere of influence that starts at my own kitchen table.
It’s been a long time since I’ve rambled here… ranted, yes, but not rambled. So here goes, with seasonal thoughts of Christmas and snow and cold and inside warmth and preparing and stressing and singing and holiness and awe and wonder and sweet and varied moments withand friends, all on my mind:
1. overheard in the front hallway, “Well mom, are you trying to be in style, or to have your own individual style? hmmm… was there a commentary in there somewhere?
2. overheard in the car, “That’s just my old man strength.”
3. overheard on the airwaves through out the house, 24/7 Christmas tunes coming at us on the net… have you ever checked out the abundant free music available online?
4. so the local soccer supply store burned down the other night. We have had such great service from the manager there who always finds us the right fit and a good deal. I sure hope they find a way to open up again before too long. We’re so sorry Soccer X-Press!
5. sent out my first Christmas package by mail to family back east… but I still feel slightly disorganized and lacking in ideas… perhaps a little pinterest coupled with a good google search might inspire and help me with some new and creative gift ideas? After all, no stress, it’s still November right?
6. trying to increase the amount of veggies and fruits and reduce the amount of meat and carbs isn’t easy in a family where teens are hungry every 2 hours… just what do I feed them to fill them up?
7. loving the way Okanagan College offers personal attention to it’s students.
8. mandarin oranges, japanese varieties, miniature varieties, chinese varieties… many varieties are in stores now. Yummm!!!
9. Advent, meaning “arrival’ is something we have adopted into our family tradition. Four Sundays leading up to Christmas are rich with potential for celebrating the Advent… the pending arrival of baby Jesus, the promise of the returning Christ, and the incarnation (the God with us) in our lives. Did you know that Advent historically involved fasting, doing without in varying degrees leading up to the 25th, so when the big Christmas feast came at last, there was a renewed appreciation of the abundant favour and blessing of God. I like that. The tasting and seeing that God is good.
10. seeking ways to inject my life/our lives with meaning is something I am always on the lookout for… so do you have any ideas for meaning-filled Christmas activities, any stories to share?
11. planning and anticipating carolling with family and friends… and the faint possibility that it just might snow while we are walking around the neighbourhood from door to door. Yep, I’m sentimental.
Peace, abundant peace,
- How Advent Can Be Much More Than “The Christmas Season” (glennpackiam.typepad.com)
I’ve hesitated writing this for a while, because you know I try to be positive, try to bring something of value here to Buddy Breathing, yet at the same time, anyone who has read BB for a while knows I also am equally committed to being authentic. So, to write a rant (even though Rick Mercer, the rant master, says that ranting is very Canadian and good for you!!) might be considered to be negative, or whiny, or complaining, or blogging with the purposes of dumping on poor folk who didn’t even have a chance to prepare for the mess… uhu. I’ve considered the Biblical truth around Peter’s vision;
Acts 10: 9-16 Peter’s Vision
9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
14 “Surely not, Lord!”Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
Now I recognize the need to look at the whole context of these verses, and I readily admit I need to do more in-depth study, but I just wonder, how do these verses relate to my concerns about food? And, I have to admit after considering all of the above, I am proceeding with my premeditated rant and I’m not sorry about it (yet).
This rant started with a facebook posting last week, “What’s eating me?” and progressed through a day of considerations around food, local food, available food, what’s good food, what’s not good food, what should we really be eating, who says, who is telling the truth, why, why, why, why not, and arrived full circle back here to the “What’s eating me?” because at the end of the day I’m really just pissed off at a situation that I’m not entirely certain I can do anything about. Food. What we are eating that eats me up at the same time.
So, to the grocery store I go, armed with idealism and simplistic goals of buying some food that I can prepare for my family that will be good for us. Sounds like a great place to start, doesn’t it? I mean who doesn’t want to eat healthfully, other than the times we give in to the cravings for salt or sugar or both, most of us want to put things into our bodies that will not only fuel the machine, but will taste good and not poison us in the process.
I’m not highly read up on all the facts around food… I readily admit this. I do need to investigate more, but part of me is wary of academic studies that glorify a food one year and vilify it the next. I’ve watched Food Inc, cheered for Jamie Oliver as he takes healthy eating to America, read the occasional article on the superfoods . My roots are rural, so maybe that’s why I’ve passionately believed in the benefits of whole foods over processed foods for many years. I’ve long stopped haunting the drive thru windows of fast food establishments, unless you include a Starbucks drip coffee from time to time.
I stay home, buy food, cook it, try new recipies, pay attention to what I buy, read the labels. Our family values include the benefit of eating family dinners at the same table for as many days a week as our schedules allow. That’s pretty often. I’ve let go of white bread, cut down on carb intake, increased my intake of water over drinking empty calories, gone from 2% to 1% milk after a rigorous taste testing exercise. I am a well intentioned “locavore”… meaning I believe in the benefits of eating fresh, locally grown produce in season. But as you know, I’m Canadian, half of our food needs fall in times when growing doesn’t happen locally
THE RANT PART…
I headed to the local Superstore grocery store with my ideals and biases, and came away crushed like a can of imported roma tomatoes. The new electronic shelf labels set me off… I don’t like them, they are small, they are confusing, they flash, they remind me I need to wear reading glasses. The fish… even those caught here in North American waters, were all farmed. Any frozen fish… was imported from waters I know even from my most basic understanding of geography to be sketchy and not to be trusted. Veggies and fruits, well, it appears the local packing house and the local S(t)uporstore are un-aquainted. Apples, pears, berries… from south of the border. Tomatoes… gassed and from further afield. So I headed to the rice section, looking for healthy non-white rice options… and then I remembered a news headline on one of the days when I was listening to the news, that announced a broad concern around tainted rice from Asia… hmmm… does that include India, I wondered? Definitely includes China and so after much searching I located a bag of rice, a brown paper bag that looked somewhat more grass roots to me, and it was from California. I’m happy to announce that California Brown Rice is quite nutty in flavour and I will buy it again. Meat… well, I’m still not over the E-Coli scare and a recent study suggesting red meat is guilty of producing all sorts of dietary ills. Dairy… butter, never margarine… don’t ask me why… it’s just a gut sense I have that naturally occurring rather than chemically produced oils are better for me. Eggs… consider cholesterol… milk… consider lactose intolerance of 2/3 of our family members and the cost of lactose free milk vs. regular milk… And on and on it went, from one food group to another to another, reading labels, considering issues, considering rumours of issues, and then on to the dietary restrictions around issues, and finally to the ORGANIC SECTION, in search of anything that might look better, feel safer, add some interest to a narrow selection of food that might or might not feed the family. In that section is where I really lost my mind I guess… in the NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENT SECTION to be more precise. Because, in that section, on a bottle of Omega 3 vitamins, was where I read this in teeny tiny print… I don’t know… maybe 3 point text…
Contains acceptable levels of arsenic!!!!!!!
So, is that related to mercury in fish… I mean Omega 3 is fish oil, right? Oh my goodness!!!
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I didn’t know whether to stay or run or say something to someone, anyone who might care to know that our vitamins contain arsenic and that’s completely acceptable to whomever decides the acceptability of these things. And I guess I’m still in shock that my grocery trip clearly was such a personal indicator that our food industry is in a bad state. I really truly think it is. What do you think?
And, if things are as bad as they appear to be, why aren’t we jumping up and down and screaming loudly enough to change something about it?
My husband, whom I dearly love, says it’s a matter of cost. It’s a matter of cost that it’s cheaper for someone to buy a Big Mac than it is to buy a healthy lunch of fruit and veggies. It’s a matter of cost that we have a 2 tier system of food in this country, that it costs more to buy righteous, healthy, Organic foodthan less healthy alternates. It’s a matter of cost… yes. Costing us our quality of life when we consider the root cause of disease and the impact on us and on our health care system. Yes, in the end, it is costing us our very lives. Well, isn’t it?
I have no answers… so I guess that doesn’t make me part of the solution… yes, I know, I know. I DON’T WANT TO BE PART OF THE PROBLEM. Still I’m just little old me… one voice in a million crying out in the wilderness, “What are we eating?” What can we eat that is good for us? Can I afford to not eat good food? Am I slowly poisoning my family? Am I becoming obsessed over what the good Lord has deemed “clean” and taking my focus from things that are of much bigger consequence than what I put into my mouth?
So many questions… so much to learn… what to do, what to do???