2019 Attitude of Gratitude Challenge

Funny how things work, sometimes.  I can’t remember if it was Thursday or Friday (2nd or 3rd of January) when I thought to myself: I wonder if Dawn is doing her Attitude of Gratitude thing this year. Not two days later (or three) what do I get in my inbox but Dawn’s post! Serendipity at its best. Let’s just say that if she hadn’t, I would have been sad and maybe, just maybe, I would have done my own anyway. It’s kinda nice to be part of something that already exists, dontcha think?

The rules are really simple.  Set the timer for 15 minutes and start listing – very stream of consciousness, this thing.  I will do exactly that by listing whatever pops into my head and at the end, shall return to my list and clean up typos, remove duplicates or even maybe cheat by adding more deets to the items, because, well, if I stop to write all the whys, then my list will be shorter.  Then again, this isn’t a contest so, does it matter just how many I have? Maybe cheating won’t even be necessary!  Okay, Rogerson, just shut up and write already.

The following are the things for which I am grateful or simply bring me joy and peace:

  1. B – for what you give and what you agree to receive;
  2. My sisters – no matter what’s what, they will be there
  3. Mom – same thing, without you, I’d not be here
  4. Dad – no longer here, you still influence some of my decisions
  5. Mick – no matter that you’ve been gone five years, you are still a huge presence, not to mention a great muse for my writing
  6. Writing – the ability to share what I want to say and have people receive it
  7. Reading – we learn so much about life, the world when we open ourselves to reading
  8. Friday Fictioneers and Rochelle in particular for being the first challenge that opened me up to writing more
  9. Blogosphere – for introducing me to so many fantastic writers
  10. Friends made over the blogosphere – it’s amazing how close we can become, like you, Sawsan, now a flesh and blood friend
  11. Julie, Giselle, Linda, Cathy – my girlfriends who are there to drink, eat and be merry with
  12. My guy friends – who keep me laughing
  13. My boys – for keeping me real – whether I like it or not
  14. The scent of petrichor in the summer
  15. The sound of rain on a window when lying in bed
  16. Being able to sit outside on a covered porch when it rains
  17. Big fluffy snow in winter, especially on Christmas Day
  18. Zeke – for giving me a reason to get out and enjoy the fresh air
  19. Standing outside, and realising all is silent and being in the moment
  20. Coffee!
  21. Wine (and beer or spirits 😉 )!
  22. The sound of the wind in the marcescent leaves
  23. My house – it keeps me safe from the elements
  24. My health – it might have blips from colds but otherwise, I’m healthy
  25. DK – for introducing me to soooo many books and for being you, who shares such beautiful things
  26. My laptop – which keeps me connected to so many people
  27. Hang Outs – which allows me to chat with my bestie face-to-face
  28. Warm thick socks in the winter
  29. Dresses in the summer
  30. My capacity (capability?) to smile through the tough stuff
  31. My ability to love freely
  32. Photography – a way to capture everything that grabs my attention
  33. Sunsets
  34. Being by the water – lake, river, ocean
  35. Travel – introducing me to cultures and broadening my horizons
  36. Cooking – not only to nourish but also to show my creativity
  37. Discovering my creativity, which I was so sure I didn’t have till it was pointed out to me
  38. Movies – being able to escape into another world for a couple of hours
  39. Merril – for introducing me to poetry and inspiring me to keep trying it
  40. Frank – because you introduced me to sooo many fabulous bloggers and your concerts were the best that I was honoured to act as your Maître D’ and because I want you to know that I am going to miss you – blogging. I shall hound you elsewhere 😉
  41. Light to see
  42. Dark to rest
  43. Love, in general – amorous or friendly
  44. Sex and the joy of sharing intimacy
  45. My eyes – so I can appreciate what is out there
  46. My ears – listening to the sounds around me, music, my loved ones’ voices
  47. My limbs – though they sometimes let me know they need more limbering
  48. My sense of humour – which helps keep me out of trouble
  49. My ability to connect with people of all stations
  50. My intellect – which permits me to have proper conversations on all sorts of things
  51. My curiosity – which keeps me learning always
  52. My snarkiness, which keeps me from not being taken seriously
  53. To you authors who trusted me with your works and allowed me to be a beta reader – I am beyond chuffed

Out With the Old, In With the New

‘Tis that time of year, isn’t it? Big ideas, resolutions, promises, goals and dissing the year that is closing up tonight at 11:59.  So many peeps have said things like “Thank God it’s over, 2019 was the worse” or “2019, WTF was that?”

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
Søren Kierkegaard

Was it really that bad?  I mean, seriously.  Yes, there have been some serious meteorologically awful situations (typhoons in Asia, heatwaves in India, cyclones in Africa, bushfires in Australia) and I suppose I could focus on shootings and political brouhaha going on all over the world but really, that’s not my style, is it?  I am no Pollyanna but I do choose to give more attention to the good that is going on, rather than the bad.

So what is the purpose of this post? Nothing, really. I guess, like, say, 75% of the planet, I’m feeling reflective.  Reflective, not in the throw back without absorbing way, nor to show an image of way Not to embody or represent in a faithful way, nor to bring credit or discredit to anyone or anything way. And certainly not to bring about a good or bad impression of way.  No, no, I’m talking about thinking deeply and carefully about things

“Sometimes, you have to look back in order to understand the things that lie ahead.”
Yvonne Woon, Dead Beautiful

And so, I take this time to think back on the year that is about to end. I’ve made choices that have brought me to where I am today. While I am not entirely in awe of some of them, I am also choosing to look at them with a different eye.  I am pondering on the ‘why’ of said choices and no longer angry at myself for making them in the first place. We all have a journey to take and, if we are wise enough to pay attention, any tripping, wrong turns, bumps in the road are, in fact, stepping stones towards something more, something better. It doesn’t matter what that something is because we each have our own. Others will give you advice or points of view – solicited or not – and we again have a choice to listen and accept, a portion of or all; or nod politely if said advice does not mesh with ours, and continue on our own path, at our own pace.

“Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writing

By choosing to look at the good in my life ~and there are many, the not-so-good might actually start looking not-so-bad in the end. Well, let’s be honest. There are some things that are harder to swallow and turn into good or a valuable lesson – but these lessons are usually the ones that have the most impact, aren’t they? When we are forced to look in the mirror and acknowledge our part in what is going on, our misplaced pride takes a hit and we are humbled. There might still be some anger attached but, if we are honest, that anger dissolves into acknowledgment and then we can now focus one what to do next.  Blessings, I have many. Misfortunes, I have some.

“We always see our worst selves. Our most vulnerable selves. We need someone else to get close enough to tell us we’re wrong. Someone we trust.”
David Levithan, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List

And you know what? On those days where we just can’t see the good in us, then we should not be shy to go to our closest allies. The ones who know us, love us for who we are, and are not afraid to tell us the what’s what, followed by an “I love you. You got this. I’m here for you. And you are good enough.”

I am very blessed to have these peeps in my circle. Some are close and some are far, but all are within reach.  To you, I say thank you. I love you.

And now, how about we ring in the NEW?

I wish for you to find the happy in what the new year brings, for love to warm your heart, for health to keep you moving forward, for friendships to keep you sane (or bring out your crazy), for enough prosperity to allow you to enjoy and take part in living your life. May laughter always be a part of every day!

HAPPY 2020!!

We’ve got this!

 

When You Get a Chance…

The blogosphere has been a gift, an inspiration, a learning experience, an on-going teacher, a place to create, to vent, to share… but you all know this because most of you are bloggers.  I have mentioned how much I appreciate the folks I’ve gotten to know, even doing a sort of Advent Calendar to show my appreciation for some… may have to do another this year, to be determined.

I have become good friends with a few bloggers that has brought us to the Skype stage (or rather, Messenger), allowing us to exchange face to face.  Did so, just this morning, in fact!

I have been so very lucky to meet two bloggers in person. One is from Montreal, right next door to speak, who also happens to be a friend of a friend, proving the world is a puny place.  And one who has become more than a cherished friend with whom I can share anything and everything, as he knows he can with me, our trust and respect for each other is that great.

And just this last Tuesday, I met a third.  Sawsan, who blogs at Last Tambourine, is a wonderful woman that I first “met” through David Kanigan’s fabulous, inspiring, thought-provoking blog, Live and Learn. Sawsan often comments with “return” pieces of poetry or prose to David’s original post and the exchanges between her and David, are wonderful and inspiring, and often humorous and even snarky.  Actually, David’s peeps love to interact with each other on his posts and he has created quite the family.

The world truly is puny as a few months ago, Sawsan and I found out – too late – we were at the same hospital at the same time on different floors visiting our loved ones. What? Damnation…  From that moment on, our exchanges went from solely on David’s blog, to emails and texting.

Again, Sawsan had to come to town (three towns over from mine) to stay with her parents to help out following her mother’s surgery, and this time there was no way in hell we were going to miss meeting each other.  Friday fell through so we had Tuesday and Wednesday left as potentials.  David kept texting us, teasing us that we were not gonna manage to get together… The thing is, when you are in town only now and again, you have family obligations that cannot be avoided.  However, we were able to prove David wrong when she was able to escape the parents and we met for coffee that turned into dinner. We had to send him selfies to prove it 😉

She has a lilting voice with the loveliest accent of her place of birth (Palestine) and a beautiful, sweet smile.  We hugged hello and talked non-stop until it was time to leave. Our senses of humour were in synch and we felt like old friends from the first minute.

When we start this blogging business, we never think things could or would go further than the post page.  Yes, there are those we find ourselves bantering with, some, by sharing our stories, we come to care for. We send each other encouragement, love, friendship, kudos, and we don’t expect things will go to the next level. We might joke and say, next time you are in Chicago, New York, Boulder, etc (coz, right, like I go to any of these places on a whim), don’t forget to look me up!

So when you get a chance…

… you take it!

 

 

 

 

The Journey – Crimson’s Creative Challenge #52

Crimson’s Creative Challenge has been going on for a whole year, already.  Can you believe that? I did not partake in all of them but quite a few. Thank you, Crispina for hosting such a fun and open challenge.  There is no way I could NOT write a little something to commemorate this auspicious occasion and include a few “matching, not matching” pics 😉  I may have cheated a tad with the timeline, for the purposes of my story.

The Journey

 

We are to take a journey

Will it be a long one?

It will start late in the summer

And then we will arrive?

No, we must keep moving forward

All through autumn?

And once the leaves have fallen?

We must keep on through the snows of winter

This journey will take forever!

No, you shall see, before you know it, 52 weeks will have gone by

A whole year?

Yes! But you’ll have enjoyed the journey for all it has brought you

What about the challenges?

They were the reason this journey began

I am so very glad for it

I am too.

 

 

Bewitching Hours – Weekend Writing Prompt #129

A word prompt to get your creativity flowing this weekend.  How you use the prompt is up to you.  Write a piece of flash fiction, a poem, a chapter for your novel…anything you like.  Or take the challenge below – there are no prizes – it’s not a competition but rather a fun writing exercise.  If you want to share what you come up with, please leave a link to it in the comments. A thank you to Sammi for issuing this weekly challenge.

Word Prompt

Twilight

Challenge

 

Bewitching Hours

It is a gift

To be able to witness

A light so enchanting

It can only be found in the in-betweens of

Dawn and sunrise or

Sunset and dusk

Twilight

When the Earth’s Sun

Scatters light into the atmosphere

Leaving us bewitched, not once, but twice

 

Crossing Paths – Crimson’s Creative Challenge #34

It’s been a little while since I participated in Crispina’s challenge. Life and all that. Inspiration and all that. However, today, here I am with a little poem and a responding picture of mine.

Have a fabulous Tuesday – what’s left of it!

Crossing Paths

“We should meet in another life, we should meet in air, me and you.”
Sylvia Plath

How long and how far matter not, in

Time spent sharing our friendship

There is no reason to quantify or qualify

And every reason to cherish it

Be it months or years or decades

Casual, formal, or all in

That old cliché poem

“A reason, a season, a lifetime”

Speaks the truth

The short and the sweet: thank you for our time

The on-going, going strong, let’s keep on keeping on!

The gone too-soon but never to be forgotten?

May we meet again in another realm

Pierre, Patricia, Roxanne, Brenda, Guy, Mick, Richard, Patrick

I’ll be expecting it. Me and all of you

Up in the air

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Word count: 121

For Patrick – One Last Cheers My Friend!

During my break at work last Sunday – Canada Day (July 1st), I was catching up on my emails, reading comments, etc. when I saw I had a LinkedIn message from Hugh. My heart dropped before even opening it. An awful feeling came over me and I had good reason. His message announced that his husband, Patrick, had passed away the previous Wednesday, five days after turning 56. His message said that “a routine surgery that went wrong in every possible way, and Pat fought like hell. I hope somewhere Pat is greeted by Mick saying ” Hey Buddy!!!”

I have been struggling with what to write since then. A flurry of emotions has come up and memories have been flooding my brain and heart since. Instead of sending plain old condolences to Hugh, I thought I would celebrate the times we had together.

He was an oncology nurse when we first met and eventually moved to palliative care. When asked what he did for a living, he would reply “I kill people.” What he meant was, he helped patients go gently into the next phase. When a nurse loses his first patient, he is given an angel pin. This pin he gave to me for Austin…and it is still pinned on my jean jacket.

We met in April 1997. After losing our son, Austin, Mick’s boss sent us off on a holiday to get away from it all and try to regroup from our loss. We had no idea where to go so we went to a travel agent who suggested a cruise. Something that had never occured to us and we jumped on it. We flew to tthe Dominican Republic, settled into our cabin, explored our itty-bitty ship (trust me, it was puny – 60,000 ton, 900 peeps on board and I’m not sure how many staff). Come supper time, we found our assigned table. And there they were, Patrick, Richard, Loretta, Hugh, John, Fred, Wilma (I’m not joking) and their daughter and us. We surveyed our dinner partners for the next week and figured out right quick that Pat and Hugh were a couple even if they had a couple betwixt them. A couple who happened to be Patrick’s sister and brother-in-law. A friendly bunch, we decided.

Our first stop was Puerto Rico and The Boys, as they would forever be known to us, said that, as this was their second week, they had already done the visiting thing and to enjoy ourselves. Which we did.

Day 2 found us in Sint Maarten and who do we run into but Pat and Hugh. A buck a beer from the lady under the palm tree and we were suddenly fast friends. Mick was going crazy, needing to pee out his beer and we all laughed at him. Why do you think we keep going into the water? After his initial reel of disgust, he joined in. After all, where do the sharks, whales, fishes, etc. do their business?

Then we hung out in St. Lucia with Bruce, one of the dancers on the ship – by now, we were hanging out at the “Gay Bar” in the evenings (it was not really one, but we called it that) where music played outside and there was a dance area at the back of the boat.)

Barbados. Oh dear. We went on the booze cruise on the Harbour Master, which is the friendly competitor to the Jolly Roger (one we would take on our second cruise with the boys). The sailed us to this cove where there was one big cloud hovering. The rest of the sky was blue with white fluffy clouds but not for us! After swinging from ropes whilst getting more and more drunk, the rains came. All the participants hovered under awnings. Not us. Mick got them to play music loud and the three of us (Mick became photographer) started to dance. The Macarena was the IN song of the time. Before we knew it, the rest of the passengers realised what fun we were having and joined in.

By St. Thomas, Mick tells Pat. “Man, my bar bill is insane.” To which Pat replies: “I have two words for you, Honey… Duty Free.” In those days, you could buy booze and bring it on board and just request juice or soda to go with. I’m going to say it cost us less but I’d be lying.

The cruise over, addresses and phone numbers were exchanged and promises to get together really soon were made.

And kept.

They live(d) in London, Ontario, a good seven-hour drive, which we were all willing to make. They came over in July of that year and lemme tell you… the recycling bin was embarrassing…

Pool noodling it with beverage in hand

Labour Day weekend, they rented a cottage somewhere in Algonquin Park and we went to join them. We got waylayed by the “wolf howl” – I kid you not. You cannot drive through until this is done. People line up for miles every Thursday in August to call the wolves and have them respond. We had no cell phones in those days so the Boys were worried, needless to say. I was about two months’ pregnant and quite anxious to get to a restroom and no – I was not going into the woods, thank you very much!

We spent a wonderful weekend. Richard and Loretta also came by. Then, while sitting out by the bonfire with the radio playing, the news came on. It was four in the morning. Princess Diana had been in an accident. Patrick was devastated. We were all in shock. We kept hearing the reports, hoping she had not succumbed but, as we know, she did.

Sitting on the porch

The following summer we got together back and forth at each other’s houses again. Their place.

Then our place. Lisa and Chris joined in and let us just say, Chris will no longer drink “Banditos” (a pre-mixed bottle of tequila and Kahlua).

We found out the Bolero (our original cruise) was still running and decided to go with them on our second cruise, this time with their friend Patricia (a co-worker nurse of Pat’s. They were known as Boy Pat and Girl Pat ;-). While waiting in line to board, who did we see registering patrons but Bruce! We started yelling “Bruuuuuce!” till he looked up and responded with an “Oh my God!!!”. Needless to say, we were going to have a great time!

We did take another booze cruise, this time on the Jolly Roger…

Maybe we should try something else…

And visited different islands such as St. Bart’s and Virgin Gorda (where our new friend Ellie and I almost drowned and got battered by the rocks.)

More visits back and forth after this cruise (where I think I got pregnant for Aidan!)

It’s too early but I’ll smile anyway

Gay marriage had not been legalized yet so the boys decided to have a Committment Ceremony to celebrate their love for each other. Mick was Patrick’s best man and I was official cake maker and photographer. They had their beautiful ceremony in their back yard on August 28, 1999. Aidan was born October 26. Can you say I was very pregnant? They never even got to taste the cake because they could not find their plates, so the heathens (guests) just started breaking off pieces. By the time they returned with plates, the cake was gone! I worked hard on that sucker!

We went on one more trip together, this time to Costa Rica. We went on a bus tour where the driver passed out from a diabetic episode. Thankfully, the bus was not in motion yet when this all happened as we could have ended up part of headline: “Bus Crashes Over Cliff, All Dead, Twelve Canadians On Board!”

We went zip-lining in the fantastic Monkey Jungle Canope Tour in Guanacaste. Pat was NOT impressed. Terrified of heights, he did it anyway! But when it was over, demanded a cigarette and a beer! After, we went and took a volcanic mud bath.

Something happened during that trip and Pat and Mick had a fight. We’ll never understand the whys of it and even though they made up, the phone calls became fewer and the visists stopped.

I was having none of it and went to visit them one last time by myself.

I called every once and again and we spoke for hours each time, catching up on stuff. Without focusing on anything negative, I was very displeased they did not get invited to our wedding in 2002… I am certain they were hurt by this as much as I was. I’ll put it into the Shit Happens File and leave it at that. Hugh agrees. It doesn’t matter anymore anyway, does it?

I’ll forever be grateful for the friendship we had with these two fabulous people. Hugh and I have vowed to get together soon and I know we will. When the pain of losing his spouse eases somewhat. When the sharpness dulls a tad. We will reminisce some more (We’ve already clocked a couple hours.) We have already laughed but I think we will also cry.

I kept this photo for last. I love the happiness on Patrick’s face after all the stress (and trust me, he was sta-ressed!) was over, the vows spoken, the food eaten, the guests still celebrating…

You were a character, a generous man, a drama queen, a friend, a brother, a husband. You will be sorely missed.

You introduced me to Holly Cole Trio so I feel it fitting I share one of our favourites.