New Year’s Doesn’t Matter

– New Year, New You
– Resolutions
– Promises
– Fresh starts
– New Month; New Year; NEW DECADE! What WILL you accomplish?
…..

Sick of all the same kind of posts yet?
This time of year (and especially this year, because 2020 – WOWZA) it can feel like the pressure is ON to somehow reinvent ourselves; become super duper mindful, become better than ever. People are dusting off their gym clothes, getting out their journals and food scales, promising themselves and their entire social media network that THIS.IS.THEIR.YEAR. Things are ’bout to get REAL for everyone. REAL, I tell ya.

But what if we just want to, you know, chill a bit?

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When Missing You Never Ends

My Grandma was someone whom I didn’t fully appreciate until she was gone. We were close, but in her lifetime I didn’t get the opportunity to form a relationship with her as an adult or as a mother or as a friend. She passed away one month before I became pregnant with The Big and while I feel certain that she still knew him in a spiritual way, a big part of me will always mourn the fact that my Grandma and The Big (and The Little) never got to know each other here on earth.

My beautiful Grandma

Some people pass and we think of them from time to time: on special occasions or when we come across something that reminds us of them. But I carry my Grandma in my heart and in my consciousness nearly all the time. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and I often feel her energy and spiritual presence around me. There are parts of who I am that I didn’t realize came from both my Grandma and my own mother. Aspects of my character that I used to think of as weaknesses that I now cherish as family traits. I see now that qualities such as my highly sensitive nature are what make me my own unique square on a beautiful family quilt. Cut from the same cloth, indeed.

I am a highly sensitive person. When I read articles like this one, I think, “Ohhhh….that’s ME!”. If you know me personally no doubt you can see that, too. I look to my Mom and see where I get it from. A super awesome part about becoming an adult (besides choosing my own bedtime and eating chocolate in the morning) is forging a new relationship with my Mom. I always knew we would, at this stage, talk about “adulting” topics like finances and parenting and recipes. I didn’t anticipate talking about spirituality and personalities and deep, deep topics that many people simply aren’t aware of or don’t relate to. It is uber cool. I so badly wish I could speak to my Grandma about these things, too. I do, in my own way, but not in a way that would allow me to reach out and hold my Grandma’s hand or inhale her scent during a long hug (Snuggle fabric softener). What I wouldn’t give to know my Grandma in this new way. This way of being an adult and having a friendship that goes beyond the expected family ties. My heart aches to be able to pour her a cup of coffee on a sunny morning and sit on my porch with her in the flesh beside me, gently slurping as we both take in the morning sun and the sound of the birds. She used to do this when she’d visit (it drove my Dad crazy): she’d pour her morning coffee then take it down to the front door. Looking to the sky out the front of the house she would slurp a sip then sigh. A moment later she’d pad down the hallway to the back door, then look to the sky out the back of the house and slurp a sip then sigh. My Dad always wondered if the weather was very different at the front of the house compared to the back. Now I wonder if she was considering the weather at all, or if she was taking in something bigger. Better. Invisible.

This blog has no ending because the love I have for Grandma deepens all the time. I miss her more as time goes on. And while I intend to get her know her still, on a spiritual level, I will continue to ache for her. It’s been almost 9 years and I have learned that you never stop missing someone, you just get used to carrying around the ache of their absence. There is a quote by Jamie Anderson that says, “Grief is just love with no place to go.”. I couldn’t agree more.

For those of you carrying around this ache (now that we’re in our 30s I imagine that’s most of us), I am sorry for your losses…

Take care of yourself,
Mel

Grief is just love with no place to go

Jamie Anderson

Roots & Wings

On a recent visit to the local library, I got to chatting with a sweet Mama of a baby and a 4-year-old. Our kids have approximately the same age gap between them (nearly four years) so we talked about that for a little while, and soon I found myself explaining that we are a military family and only here for two years (it was relevant, I promise). I got the reaction I usually get when I tell this to a civilian mother of young kids: the raised eyebrows and slight tilt of the head followed by some variation of, “Oh wow! You’re only here for two years? You already know that? Isn’t it hard moving around all the time?”. Now, I didn’t even catch this woman’s name so I’m not about to go into a deep and meaningful conversation about the trials and tribulations, the ups and downs, the pros and cons, of our lifestyle and, in particular, of moving around a lot. So I went with my standard response, a variation of, “Well it has its challenges, of course, but we sure get to experience a lot of different things”. I then swiftly move on to a different topic.

There are two separate and distinct schools of military wives when it comes to this topic: Those who truly love and embrace the changes, the chances to start again and again, the freshness of a new adventure, the thrill of meeting new people and setting up a new house, and the opportunities we are given by seeing and becoming a part of so many areas of our beautiful country. The other school, my school, appreciates and admires the first school. And it isn’t that I disagree…those can all be exciting. But mostly, I feel differently. Yes, there are advantages. Yes, I think it’s pretty stinkin’ cool that our kids have lived in a small military town, the agricultural prairies, a historic lake-side Ontario and beautiful, coastal Eastern city. Beaches and hay bales and trolley tours and the ocean. Very, very cool. And they will likely do exceptionally well in their Canadian Geography classes.

But what I didn’t say to Library Mama was how I truly feel:

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Disgusted, Worried, Inspired

Last night I was watching “Toddlers and Tiaras”, a reality show on TLC where Moms put their young girls in beauty pageants. The girls ranged in age from 3 (THREE!) to 10 in this episode, and each girl was outfitted with some or all of the following: makeup, fake hair, fake teeth, contact lenses, costumes, fake eyelashes. They had to parade around the stage, waving and blowing kisses. Several of the kids complained to their Moms that they didn’t want this or that but their Moms made them, emphasizing that they’d never win without the teeth, contacts, etc.

I watched it with the fascination and disgust that one watches a car accident on the side of the highway. With each moment that passed, each little girl whose beautiful, natural features were made over, covered, altered, my heart felt heavier and heavier. I was near tears and it wasn’t from the growing feeling of nausea in my stomach.

What were they doing? What is the world doing? Three years old with a wig and fake eyelashes? A beautiful 10 year old girl told to wear green contacts because her brown eyes weren’t good enough? Not pretty enough? For once I am struggling to articulate exactly how I feel about this because I am so shocked that I can hardly form coherent thoughts.

It would be easy to pretend that this is all on TV, all separate from us, or even, something only “Americans” would do. But really we know the difference, don’t we? Look around at the girls you see walking down the street. Look how they carry themselves, what they’re wearing, how they talk. Three year olds want to be 15. Fifteen year olds want to be 22. And it isn’t with the innocence that we all tried on our Mommies high heels and lipstick when we were little girls. It is a genuine belief that they aren’t good enough the way they are.

A few years ago I was substitute teaching at a school and a girl in Grade 5 told me her Mom had to use two whole boxes of hair dye on her because one wasn’t enough. In case you aren’t sure, in Grade 5 a child is no more than 11 years old. I told her I had never dyed my hair and her reply was, “Wow, That must be hard”. I told her that I thought each of us was born with the colour hair that looks most beautiful on us. She had no reply, but the look on her face clearly told me that such a statement had never been said to her before. Her own mother thought her 11 year old daughter would look prettier as a brunette. What message is that sending?

I am not a skinny woman. I have hips, boobs, a full hour-glass figure. I’m a curvy Mama. Do I sometimes wish to be thinner? Yes, to be honest, I do. But I have absolutely no desire to be so drastically different from what I am now that I look different altogether.  That’s just not me. Never has been, never will be, and I’ve made peace with that. I am a teacher and last year I taught 9 and 10 year olds. We had a deep mutual affection for each other and a beautiful, healthy teacher/student relationship, particularly the girls and I. As a teacher, I feel that it is my job to be who I am and look the way I do to show those girls that you can be smart, beautiful, funny, loving, successful, and happy however you look, whatever you weigh, and whatever your dress size. I made a point to explicitly tell them as much any chance I had. Most of their mothers didn’t tell them, so if I didn’t I wondered who would. Maybe no one. Ever.

I feel so passionately about this.

As teachers, Aunts, sisters, neighbours, friends, cousins, Moms and as WOMEN, we have a job to do.

So stop facebooking about your weight, your weight-loss, your diet. Stop losing sleep over the boston cream donut you indulged in with your Timmies this morning. Don’t eat differently in front of your new date to seem feminine and dainty. Be healthy, be happy, be yourself. Make peace with your huge hips, or lack of boobs, your big nose or your small feet. Love yourself the way you are today. Wear what fits and what is comfortable – tear out the tags if you have to. Look in the mirror and smile. (When was the last time you did that?) Love yourself. Love yourself harder than you ever have before. Then spread that love, that healthy self-esteem, that appreciation and respect for yourself to every girl and women you know.

And if they don’t get this message? Then what?
They need it.
And so do you.

Mel