Friday, September 30, 2011

Strong Women

When you have something you are passionate about, if you get a bee in your bonnet related to your passion, it continues buzzing until you satiate the damn thing. In my case, it's writing down my thoughts. Even when it's closing in on 1:30am and I have to be up in 5 1/2 hours to three bouncing off the wall boys and a very stoic poodle puppy. So I was having a chat with a friend, shooting the breeze about life in general and old times and it got me thinking about something that's been a good positive consistent theme in my life. So as I'm lying in bed thinking about the conversation, I can't get the topic out of my head, so I heaved myself out of my nice warm and ever so comfortable bed, and made my way down to old Betsy and here I am...nose inches from the screen because I already took my contacts out and I can't find my glasses. So this is going to be filled with oodles of errors because I'm tired and I can't see. Duly warned!

For those who don't know, I grew up in Regent Park. Most of it is rubble now, including my former home, but back in the day it was a community rich in culture, people and relationships. It was much like a small town in that we were pretty isolated from the outside world. We would do our food shopping and get supplies when needed, but for the most part, entertainment was local, schools were local, friends and family were local, churches, get the picture. So that consistent theme. Well everyone always thought of Regent as this scary place filled with drug dealers and criminals, and while the drug trade did find a convenient place to exist in that poorly mapped out community, there were families. Tonnes and tonnes of families. Thousands of people crammed into roughly 1000 units total. Many of these families were headed by women. I can probably count on my hands the number of dads who were consistently there and kudos to them, however fellas, I'm here to talk about the women...why? Because I am one, and it's my blog. :)

These moms were tough! I mean tough as nails tough. We never crossed the moms, didn't matter if they were our own or not, they'd just as soon chew you out, then go tell your mom, who would proceed to make your life hell for the next little while. They had to be strong, strict, caring and stand up to shield us as much as they could from a very chaotic world. On top of that they had to deal with poverty, living in broken buildings, several jobs and all the little things we take for granted, but were magnified because of all the additional crap we had to endure.

But there were those moms, those aunts, those sisters. In Regent, often your family was your friends and neighbours. I have so many people I consider family who I don't share a drop of blood with. You might squabble with them over the noise of their TV, but they'd also give you their last cup of milk if your kids were screaming. We watched out for one another.

One time, we had the fortune of having 3 crack houses on our floor! This caused a lot of night time traffic, fighting and just overall a terrible situation for the rest of the families there. The police did the minimal, the landlord too, so the moms decided to take matters into their own hands. For weeks, they'd whisper death threats to us kids to not leave our apartments (we never listened) and they would collectively stand at the elevator doors and harass anyone who was there to do drugs. There was a church lady there. And anyone who grows up in an inner city community knows that you do not FUCK with the church lady. She had an old fashioned school bells, so the first thing those folks were confronted with when that door opened was an angry Jamaican church lady with a very loud bell, giving them the well mannered, but in no uncertain terms chewing out that only an angry Jamaican church lady could give (God help me if she ever saw the language I use on my blog). But really, all these moms took a serious risk, they could have been hurt in so many ways, there were plenty of opportunities to get them alone, but they decided as a collective that this nonsense had to end and they'd fight like hell together to do so. Within a month, those crack houses had moved on.

Our community was enriched by many dedicated professionals who came in and worked hard. From the school teachers, to the doctors and nurses, the admin staff, the community workers. My sense of constant moral outrage comes from my grade 4, 5 and 8 teacher. She's way crankier than I could ever muster, but dammit, she'd be proud at my uppityness. I remember discussing my sexual health as a teenager with the caring doctors and nurses at our local health centre. I'm sure all you women can remember how much fun THAT was as a young woman. I can remember how much love and encouragement I got from everyone really. Our moms might have squabbled, but they left the kids out of it, that was a hard and fast rule. I used to write for the local youth paper and bringing my sense of moral outrage and uppityness, I wrote an article slamming the local community police liaison committee for classism and completely ignoring Regent Park in favour of the much wealthier communities surrounding our home. Well, didn't all these folks demand a meeting with me, where they proceeded to tear 16 year old me a new one. I was there with two of my 16 year old friends getting that beating. But my mom whom I whispered death threats to if she went all mother bear on me, was there and made sure that I was okay at the end of the meeting. Shortly after, I was at a local committee meeting and was presented with a journal from a lovely woman. She told me to keep writing and keep giving them hell, I intend to make good on that. I still have that journal.

And really, just thinking of how many countless people who have come out of Regent Park, with all the temptation to fall into despair and destructive activities, as folks who have avoided all that and have made good lives and relationships for themselves and others, is a testament in itself to the sheer force of will and soul our mothers had to get us to that point.

I've struggled in the past 8 months, God knows how I've struggled, but I've survived and I've come to a point where I know I'll survive. I've also noticed that the people who have circled the wagons around me, have been predominantly women. One of my most favourite recent memories, was coming home to my bestie aka my wife, my babysitter and our kids at home and dinner well on the way. How perfect was that? My only regret was that my life saving, I worship the ground she walks on, nanny and my mom weren't there. Just women doing what we always do, to take care of the kids and banding together to take care of each other.

I sometimes wondered where I learned how to be this strong, but tonight while chatting, it dawned on me or was presented to me, I'm sorry, it's late, I can't remember that I have this legacy of amazing women all throughout my life. They have been strong, opinionated, generous, downright bitchy if need be, terrifying and loving all at the same time. It's very humbling to think of them, because living or dead, even though their blood does not run in my veins, their wisdom and passion lives within my soul. It was an epiphany tonight, and I know the next time I feel burnt out at the end of my rope, I will remember them. Words cannot possibly express the gratitude and appreciation I feel, it's overwhelming, so all I can do is to vow to live my life with the same strength, fire and kindness that they do/did.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Puppy Love

Money can't buy you happiness...YES IT CAN!

How can money buy you happiness you ask? 


She is called Her Royal Highness, Prissy of Prissyness, Duchess of all things girly, and Mommy's little girl, even if she is on four feet. Otherwise known as Adele and she is all mine. I'm just waiting for the boys to get home, they have noooooo idea! Muahahahahaaaa.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Well the first thing about it, should have me questioning what the Hell I'm doing this late or early in the day writing blog posts, but I kind have had another "aha" moment where I've survived another challenge, where I thought I would falter. In fact I felt myself faltering and now I'm more tired than anything else...which makes sense given that its 2am.

I've been looking at old photos, reading old letters, thinking of the past and I'm gaining the ability to look at it objectively. My therapist told me that this would be the next step and it feels good. I can pinpoint moments where I didn't feel safe in my life, my relationship and it's been a lot of the time, and some of it was me, some of it was the relationship. Largely I've been focusing on the woman I was, and the woman I am just starting to be. She was always in there, I knew her when I was younger, in my teen years, in college. She's spunky, she has fire, life, beauty. It's not that the previous me didn't, but she was subdued, she hid behind her kids and let complacency settle in because she put her family and her husband above any and all needs for herself. Okay, enough talking in the third person, I'm annoying myself. I look at pictures of me a year, two years, three years ago. I look sweet and loving, warm and nurturing, just like a mom should be, but there was no woman in there. I lived under a shadow of never living up to this ideal woman, one I never could possibly be, so I think in a sense I gave up and forgot about who I was.

I remember a conversation with one of our mediators and she asked me, who I was before I had kids, before I put my family before myself. I stumbled along, remembering short glimpses of some spunk, and determination, but really I had a hard time picturing it. Mind you, getting up from a left hook to the jaw (figuratively) tends to dull your memory, and mine is shitty to begin with. But now, as I continue to live my life, on my own, as my own woman, I'm remembering. I was hell on wheels! Always ready with a rant or cheeky comment, all fired up and ready to change the world. That slipped away slowly as I put everyone needs and wants above my own and eventually lost that person. However the good news is, that I feel that person coming back. Now mind you, I'm planning on being a bit more tempered, and while I will move heaven and earth to make sure every one of my children's needs are met, I'm also going to honour some of my own too.

I need to be a woman. I need to have a life outside the home. I need to have goals and dreams (I already have them). I need to not define my life by supporting someone be the best that they can be. I need to feel safe, wanted and beautiful and not second rate, if I am going to be in a relationship. I need to take over the world. Most of all, I deserve all these things, especially the world domination.

I look at the woman I was a year or two ago, and the woman I am today, the woman I am today has a few more grey hairs, has a nice worry line in the middle of my brow (ITS THERE!) and has shed enough tears to fill a swimming pool. I am also stronger, more loving, more competent and way more hawt! Yeah, I said it lol I'm also more hopeful and more entitled to all those good things that I would wish for my children, friends, loved ones in a relationship. I feel more confident and ready to take steps out into the world for myself and plot my own course. Someone asked me today if I'm enjoying being single, and since I got my tattoo (What the hell was in that ink John? I feel like a brand new freaking person!) I can say I am. I'm enjoying getting reacquainted and learning about the woman I'm becoming and I'm liking her...a lot. That's more than I can say for a very long time and it feels amazing!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

*Queue James Brown*

I do feel good. I feel fanfreakingtastic, I mentioned it on facebook and was commanded by one friend to write about it, so here I am. It was a far better prospect than roasting a turkey that her brother suggested (BTW, Thanksgiving, if you're interested, you're of course welcome, Xmas too).

I don't know, I have faced a hurdle that I had been dreading. And you know when you dread something and you're terrified of it coming and when it finally does come, it's not necessarily as bad as you dreaded. You walk away feeling "hmph, not sure why I was fussing about THAT!" That's how I feel, except I feel like it still was a big hurdle, but I feel like She-Hulk that I survived it and I'm able to let go of so much hurt and anger and dread. And with that, not only comes a sense of peace, but a sense of power. I'm not saying that it's all going to be unicorn farts and rainbows, but I continually look back and see the peaks that I've scaled and see them progressively get smaller and smaller.

Something that finally sunk in for me on Friday when I faced the big hurdle was despite all of that relationship hurt, I was loved and worth loving. As I was trying to get a grip, I thought to myself, I have millions of amazing friends, all quality people who would and have done so much for me. I have a great family, (most of whom are not blood related) again, who would do and have done so much for me. I'm reasonably smart and attractive. I have a kick ass tattoo and hair that would make Eva Longoria envious. I've got three adorable bright boys who I love and who love me back with the ferocity of a million shining suns. Really, I'm worth love, I'm worth good love and damn good treatment. Okay, enough about how great I am and how loved I am, I'm trying to say in a million words or less, that I had an epiphany and its one that everyone needs to have for themselves.

We all have our crosses to bear, our hurts, disappointments and anger. Many of it stems though from feeling wounded and that wound ultimately can only be healed with time and with self care. It's vital to let that wound heal, and like any cut or scrape, you keep it clean, kept it nurtured and cuddle up to anyone who is going to give you a cookie. Same goes for those emotional wounds. My therapist once told me that you can only depend on yourself and God. That seems like a pretty jaded outlook, but I don't think so. I think spiritually, only you can take care of that garden of yours. You know what needs weeding, what needs to be staked, what needs a little extra fertilizer or warmth, and no one else is going to do that for us, not even God. If you're the religious sort, if you think about it, we're pretty much mandated across the religious board to love ourselves as much as our makers love us. And even if you're not religious, it's still a good exercise to really love yourself, work on that garden til you come to that epiphany of what you are worth (and believe me, you are worth loving, especially if you're one of my friends!).

I have to say, that that has brought me such a peace and happiness that I'm still pinching myself wondering if this is a dream. And isn't that the goal in life, to be at peace and happy? That happiness brings personal power, and that personal power gives you the ability to let go of your hurts, at least for a little while, and it will build a base, that you can revisit the next time you hit a bump in the road and the next. And then, letting go of your hurts, equals more happiness and it goes around in a big trippy rainbow unicorn circle. But hey, as much as I knock the rainbow unicorns, I had to admit, this feeling is pretty fan freaking tastic, so it's definitely a state of mind I will be pursuing a hell of a lot more in the future. In the meantime, I'm back to James Brown and my happy tunes.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I feel pretteh, oh so pretteh

Just going to warn you right now, this post contains a lot of leg, and small amount of underroos (new word of my own creation) and a fair amount of cellulite. 

Today was what we call a loaded day. It's my wedding anniversary, it had the potential to go either very very right, or very very wrong. Fortunately I did something I rarely have the smarts to do....I planned ahead. I decided today that I was going to church come hell or highwater and I was going to stay the whole service. I'd previously made an attempt, but couldn't stop the tears and left the building. Today was a double whammy, being in the building where I was married, where my children were baptized, on the date of my marriage 12 years prior. However I did it! I made it! I felt tears coming a few times, but I stuck it through. Well I did miss the sermon due to fussy baby, but the point is, I didn't leave in tears. I also made a vow to myself in church to strive to move forward and to love myself as I should from this point forward.

With that under my belt, my inlaws (I think I'll always call them my inlaws) took the lil'uns for a hike with the ex and I spent my time getting supplies for the week, doing a bit of tidying up and I even took a soak in the tub, oh yes, in the vein of loving myself, I also went to get some awesome Hakka food (diet be damned) and found an amazing deal on Moroccan Oil!

Fast forward a few hours later, I'm up on a table with my leg on fire. After 17 years of wanting one, I bit the bullet and got a tattoo. I had been thinking of getting one for a few years, but could never think of what to get. However after some thought during these hard months, I thought that a phoenix would be the order of the day. I've had to reinvent myself in so many ways and I needed something to symbolize it. Everything fell into place really perfectly. On my anniversary of my marriage gone down in flames (sorry for the dramatics, I'm going somewhere with this), I'm going to go get a phoenix tattoo.

I went back to my home to have it done, the artist was on the solid recommendation of my downtown family, and believe me, they would know. Since I'm a wuss, someone I love dearly and consider part sister, part aunt held my hands the whole time. Despite the pain (and it fucking hurt, everyone who told me it wouldn't, y'all are nothing but a bunch of lying liars who lie!) I loved every moment. I felt safe, loved and supported in only that way family can. We shared many laughs, stories and winces on my part.

I just now had an emotional moment thinking about it. It's been happening a bit lately, it's a good sign, even if it does have me reaching for the tissues. I'm blessed that I'm overwhelmed with emotion because I'm starting to truly feel safe and loved again.

My safety duck, courtesy of a sweet 18 month old. lol

The pain, while not enjoyable was also symbolic for me, because in order to have this beautiful design on me forever, I am going to have to go through some pain. Likewise with my life, to be this beautiful strong woman I know is in there, I'm going to have to go through some pain...a lot of pain. lol That said, a teenager wise beyond her years remarked that I would feel a sense of peace afterward, and she's right, I do, it's like it belongs here, though I nearly scared the daylights out of me walking past my mirror and seeing this bird staring at me. That's going to take some getting used to.

awesome outline

Many thanks to John Bertrand for the amazing vision, skilled hands, patience and sense of humour to make this happen. I'm so not looking forward to the fill, but no pain, no gain. I think I'm definitely going to be that "one tattoo" type of person. Thank goodness it's so awesome.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Well August was a brutal month. Not all of it, but the second half right into September, however two kids into school, the big guy loooooves it. I've loved our Montessori, but there is something very sweet about my guy having buddies that live right around the corner...freaking convenient too. Our local public school truly does have that community feeling, much like my public school, except with this time around, the parents are supervising their kids. Anyhow, that's a load of stress off my shoulders and now I've been working towards volunteering so I can give back and look all bright and shiny on my resume. I'm also working on being a little more selfish, in truly enjoying my time off without running around doing errands. Baby steps!

But that's not what this post is about. Today I hit a milestone. These are typically hard days, but this one sort of crept up on me. As of today, had things been different, I would have been with my ex 18 for a total of years. Wow. That is over half of my life. Ultimately, we're going to be a part of each others lives in different capacities til the day we die since we share children, but it's still an adjustment not being part of the day to day.

That said, I'm surprised that this day hasn't been rough for me...well it has seeing as I have the back to school plague courtesy of my darlings, but I haven't shed a tear, I haven't been terribly sad, reflective yes, but more objectively. Maybe it's the plague, maybe my head is too addled to really feel, in which case, I could make a mint just bottling this plague up and selling it to people who really don't want to feel crappy feelings for a week, the only side effect being that they get a dose of a whole other brand of crappy.

I ran into a mother at school who I haven't chatted with in a while, we got to talking and it turns out she is not with her little one's father either. I had suspected as I've seen them interact, and while it wasn't hostile, it had that same vibe it does with me and my ex, all business and a concerted effort to keep it all business. She told me that it happens for a reason and I replied "I truly do believe that, there is a bigger plan for me" and I actually believed it, I still do! Its a pretty good feeling.

For some reason, even though the mountain just jutted up 40 gabillion miles into the sky, the world seems to have a lot more potential. I seem to have a lot more potential. One of my besties remarked how I'm a different woman compared to a year ago and she's right, I've been through Hell, I'm still going through Hell, but the one thing I know now is that I can survive this Hell and that's a pretty freaking great feeling! Lets hope that carries me through five days into the future when I'm celebrating my former wedding anniversary by getting my first tattoo...Did I mention that I hate needles?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Are you my friend?

You might have heard me reference my friends in my posts...considering most of my readers are my friends, you are an amazing bunch of people. You've helped me during the worst crisis of my life, you continue to help, whether its providing an ear, an online chat session, rushing over for a coffee, or dragging me out of the house kicking and screaming. I cannot believe the amount of love and warmth you continue to share with me.

There have been some friends during this whole messy business who have been caught in the middle, they don't know what to do and I feel for them. We've had "couple friends" and they're kinda stuck in no mans land fearing to breathe for all the landmines of messy gooey emotion around them. Whenever asked, I've told them to please feel free being both our friends, and most have and for the most part, its business as usual. Although the women parts of these couples have been very generous in loaning out their guys for all the icky, gross or strong jobs I simply cannot do.

I'm taking this opportunity to brag, I've become fairly efficient at killing bugs and not freaking out. I actually came EYE to EYE with a moth at the gas station while pumping gas. I figured it would be in my best interest not to freak out and potentially blowing everyone in a 2km radius to kingdom come. That is an achievement!

Bug killing Joy is so great diatribe over, back to those friends. They have wandered through a really sticky mess and have come out the other end still committed to be friends to both of us in different ways and I feel blessed because of them. They didn't have the luxury of a cut and dried situation, they felt the shock and sadness and grief and they've had to deal with all of that on top of all the crap their own lives have thrown at them. They've had to do a tightrope line of support to both parties, it's pretty intense, I don't envy them, but they've shown their character and grace in spades.

All that said, I have lost some friends in the process. Some have just chosen to continue on the friendship with the other half, as they might have been closer to him. Some have been a bit two faced in running back and forth letting each of us know what the other had to say. Some have run off the deep end in gossip.

I can understand the decision to choose, sometimes the cards just have to lie where they fall and I don't bear anyone ill will because of it. I've had to amend my thinking and some practical issues because of it, but I guess there's bound to be casualties in all areas of life surrounding the break up of a marriage. It's just something I've come to accept. I'm actually a bit surprised about how easily I came to accept this, go fig.

The latter two categories of friends are former friends. Their actions can smart sometimes, but I'm generally more pissed about it, and not a defensive type anger stemming from hurt, but just a plain old "you're an asshole" type anger. Some have been reading this blog and have been turning it into gossip fodder, which of course works like a broken telephone, so if I say "the kids are great" it comes out the other end as "purplemonkeydishwasher". My advice...get a new hobby...purplemonkeydishwasher!

I think gossips of this sort, well they might be short term inflicting some wounds on the parties involved, but in the end, I think it will only hurt themselves. A friend once said something to the effect of "its a lot easier to heal from a hurt inflicted on you, than one you've inflicted on others" I'm paraphrasing, she's a lot more eloquent, but it's stuck with me, which is something because most days I barely remember my kids names. But they're wise words and if I'm firing on all cylinders, I try to remember it before acting.

Anyhow, enough negativity, I had to get those musings off my chest and to quote Forest Gump "that's all I have to say about that." Back to my good friends.

A lot of people when they've finally finalized a divorce and feel in a spot where they've turned the corner, they have a divorce party. I don't like that idea, I mean, it's the end of a marriage where presumably once two people loved each other. I don't like celebrating the end of love. So my perspective is, that once I've turned that same corner, I'm throwing a different kind of party. It's a friend appreciation party, because as one love ended, so many people have stepped up their love to fill in some of the gap. While it's impossible to fully do so, I feel that my friends have made my cup half full, so they better be prepared for one hell of a fiesta when I've conquered this hellish mountain of doom, which is uphill both ways and snowing on both sides, with volcanic eruptions, rabid rampaging moose and I'm butchering a pair of Jimmy Choos and my feet climbing it (just to put into perspective of what a challenge I face) but more importantly how much my friends have stepped in to make it easier.