Monday, November 3, 2014

Why would someone want to hire a Birth Photographer?

As I was sitting in a waiting room today, waiting...oddly enough, I picked up a Parenting Magazine.  At the end of the magazine was one of those pro/con articles where they told both sides of a story.

The title was 'Would you hire a Birth Photographer?'


The first part was from a Mother of 2 who said, 'Hell no'.
She said she would basically rather die than have someone in her face with a camera yelling, 'Say CHEESE!' during a contraction.  Or worse, a close-up shot of her vagina as the baby's head is crowning.

As a Photographer and a Mother of 3, I was writhing in my seat.  I mean, this woman went on and on about how having a birth photographer would be such an invasion on her privacy and what sort of sadistic person would want to 'get in there and see everything'? Obviously visions of paparazzi selling her pics to the highest bidder were abounding. 

~sigh~

So that's what made me think there may be a slight misunderstanding among the masses.  And I would like to set the record straight.  Please bear with me.

First of all, a Birthing Photographer is not looking to 'go in for the money shot' like the misinformed Mama claimed.  True...we, as Photographers, are usually positioning you and telling you where to stand and when to smile.  That much is true.  However, a Birthing Photographer is something entirely different.

We are there to capture a story, create a 'baby book' of pictures.  Picture the first image, Mom's belly a couple of months ahead of D-day.  A picture of the nursery ready and waiting...Daddy sitting in the rocking chair 'reading' a book to the soon-to-be baby.  The due date circled on the calendar!  If the birth is in a hospital or birthing clinic, a picture of the outside of the building or the sign announcing the name.  A moment capturing the strength of Mom experiencing a contraction while Dad holds tight to her hand.  A kiss on her forehead.  The clock on the wall showing the late hour, hopefully not a sign that the baby will be a night owl.  And then, the first expression on the baby's face as he/she is held up to Mom's face.

I didn't even realize I was holding my breath till I let it out at the thought of the baby's safe entrance into the world.  Can you see it? Can you feel the excitement?

Oh and I almost forgot, we are not in your face saying, 'cheese!'  A Birthing Photographer blends into the background.  We get the candids.  We don't wait for the smile.  We get the crucial moments.  And if we do our job right, you won't even know we are there.

I've been there done that, three times over.

The drives to the hospital.  The pain and struggle.  The long walks down the hall to speed things up.  The loved ones in the 'waiting room' falling asleep.  And the final gentle plump of the baby resting on my chest and looking up into my eyes for the first time.

And you know what?  Every single time, the camera sat unattended on a nearby table, waiting patiently for someone to remember it.  Oh, and we did.  But always much later.  And by the time we did remember, the baby had already changed in its looks from first glance.  The transformation from birth to one hour is amazing.  And if you don't have a photograph to prove it...your mind will change with it.  And you will forget what happened.  I find the birth of a baby is a whirl of excitement and activity, much like a wedding.  Everyone is present, there is crying and cheering, kissing and cake...and before you know it, it's all over and you have a blur of memories...and a baby. Okay, so maybe it's not the exact same thing.

If I could go back, knowing what I know now....I would have hired someone not related to me to take pictures.  Why not related to you?  Because if you are emotionally attached to the situation, you may get caught up in the flurry and forget all about that contraption in your hand.  It is hard to get a good clear photo if your hands are shaking and you're crying.  Believe me, I've tried that too.

So in conclusion, there are not many moments in your life that change you forever.  Not ones that you want to remember anyway.  Your first kiss as Husband and Wife.  The first time you look into the eyes of that baby you've been nurturing and loving for 9 months.

These are the moments you want to hold on to.  This is why it is worth the cost of hiring a professional.  This is why I love what I do.

Oh and p.s. the other side of the article was written also by a Mother of 2, but she was a Birth Photographer....

~for the moments there are no words, let the photographs speak for you~






Friday, October 10, 2014

I am thankful....that 22 years ago my eyes were opened

Things have changed a lot for me in the past 22 years.  Let's see....back then I was eating red meat, drinking cow's milk, using anti-perspirant.  I was also overweight, unhealthy and extremely unhappy.

Then my Mother was diagnosed with the 'C' word.  Within 2 weeks, my Father had fallen in as well.

For those of you who have already read my book 'Through Someone Else's Eyes' (which is now available on Kobo.com) none of this will be news to you.  If you have not, then reading this may improve the health of you and your loved ones.

Because of my parents health issues I am now considered a 'high risk' individual.  Last week I had my second mammogram.  It was more painful that my first one.  It stirred up a renewed awareness in myself of what I do with and put into my body.  Upon receiving the news one dreary Spring morning not unlike the cold Autumn one I experienced this a.m., my Mother immediately consulted a Homeopathic Physician for guidance and help.  What she learned, she shared with me.  And I will now share with you.

Anti-perspirant
The difference between 'deodorant' and 'anti-perspirant' is that deodorant makes you smell pretty yet still allows your body to sweat.  This is very important! Anti-perspirant....is exactly that...it prevents you from perspiring, which is the same as sweating.  How does it do this exactly? I'm glad you asked.  It blocks your pores with chemicals, including aluminum thus disabling your body to release toxins and clogging your sweat glands.

"A few studies in recent years have theorized that aluminum-based antiperspirants may increase the risk for breast cancer. 
According to the authors of these studies, most breast cancers develop in the upper outer part of the breast -- the area closest to the armpit, which is where antiperspirants are applied. The studies suggest that chemicals in antiperspirants, including aluminum, are absorbed into the skin, particularly when the skin is nicked during shaving. These studies claim that those chemicals may then interact with DNA and lead to cancerous changes in cells, or interfere with the action of the female hormone estrogen, which is known to influence the growth of breast cancer cells."
 Cow's Milk
Would you drink milk from a cat? Of course not, you say...don't be ridiculous.  Cats' milk is for kittens! And of course dogs' milk is for puppies.  Women's milk is for babies.  So shouldn't cows' milk be for calves?  Sure, cows' milk supposedly has enough nutrients in it to make your bones big and strong...but who wants to look like a cow?
I would like to bring your attention to 'A recent article by Dr. David Ludwig and Dr.
Walter Willett from Harvard, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  The study by Ludwig and Willett showed a lack of evidence for the government’s recommendations. (Our current government guidelines recommend drinking three glasses of milk a day for every North American over five.  For kids under five, Canada's Food Guide recommends chugging two glasses a day.) The Harvard scientists found no data to support the claim that the consumption of dairy leads to better bones, weight loss, or improved health.  They also found some serious risks tied to dairy consumption, including weight gain, increased cancer risk, and increased fracture risk.  It turns out milk does not build strong bones! They also found that dairy may cause other problems like constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, gas, diarrhea, allergies, eczema, and acne.'
If you want to eat dairy, I suggest you try goat and sheep dairy, such as sheep cheese and yogurt or goat cheese and yogurt, both of which are widely available now.  It is also important to choose organic when you can, because pesticides and chemicals are concentrated in the fat found in non-organic dairy.  Don't even get me started on pesticides & chemicals!
  1. Take a dairy holiday for two to four weeks, and see how you feel.  Does your postnasal drip go away, and do your sinuses clear up?  Does your acne go away?  Do you stop having bloating, gas, and diarrhea?  Do you have more energy?  Does your eczema clear up?  Do your allergies get better? These are some very simple things you should notice when you eliminate dairy.  Then try eating dairy again, and see how you feel.  Do these symptoms return?
  2. Stick with sheep or goat dairy if you do decide to eat dairy again, but try to avoid cow dairy.
 Red Meat
When I first stopped eating red meat, I immediately lost 30lbs (over a month's time) I felt better, less lethargic.  I had more energy.  Plus! I smelled better.  I know what you're thinking...but it had nothing to do with my bathroom adventures.  I mean, when I eat red meat...I can smell it on my skin.  It seeps through my pores.  And it's not a nice smell.  The last time we treated ourselves to a steak (usually once or twice a year) my Husband even noticed it on himself.  And his first thought?
'Ewww...'
"Indeed, in the last 12 months there has been more data than ever indicating that red meat is not on the menu for health and longevity. (Sorry, but science is strong.) A year ago the relationship between eating red meat and early death was reported in over 121,000 doctors and nurses who provided dietary histories and were followed for up to 28 years. Nearly 24,000 people died during the long period of follow up. 

Each daily single serving increase of red meat upped the risk of dying from any cause, with processed meats (such as bologna or hot dogs) posing more risk than unprocessed red meat. The risk for cancer followed the same ugly trend. The researchers estimated that avoiding one serving of red meat a day by eating fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, whole grains or low fat dairy would lower the risk of dying by 7-19%.  Not a bad shopping habit to adopt!"
Soda/Cola 
I'm sorry if this offends anyone, but I am going to use my ex as an example here.  For all of the years we were together, he drank Pepsi first thing in the morning.  He took a glass of it to bed with him each night.  And can you guess what he had to drink in between those times?
It was disgusting.  His breath was horrible.  His teeth were rotting.  I realize this is an extreme case, but that is why I am using it.  He just recently had dental work to replace all of his teeth.  And he suffered from numerous physical ailments and neurological behaviour.  A real treat, right?
Why would anyone want to put something into their bodies that people use to clean their toilets?
What can be done? Switching to diet? NO!  That only reduces the sugar in the drink.  All of the other harmful chemicals and acids are still present.  Along with some new poisons that replace the sugar.

Aspartame - The 1976 Groliers encyclopedia states cancer cannot live without phenylalanine. Aspartame contains 50% phenylalanine.
The dangers of aspartame poisoning have been a well guarded secret since the 1980s. The research and history of aspartame is conclusive as a cause of illness and toxic reactions in the human body. Aspartame is a dangerous chemical food additive, and its use during pregnancy and by children is one of the greatest modern tragedies of all.

Why haven't you heard about aspartame poisoning before? Partly because the diet industry is worth trillions of American dollars to corporations, and they want to protect their profits by keeping the truth behind aspartame's dangers hidden from the public. When NutraSweet® was introduced for the 'second' time in 1981, a diet craze revolutionized America's eating protocols and a well-oiled money machine was set into motion changing modern lifestyles.
After more than twenty years of aspartame use, the number of its victims is rapidly piling up, and people are figuring out for themselves that aspartame is at the root of their health problems. Patients are teaching their doctors about this nutritional peril, and they are healing themselves with little to no support from traditional medicine.
Drinking cola (Coke, Pepsi, etc) can:
increase your blood pressure, destroy your teeth, cause liver problems, heartburn, risk of kidney stones, osteoperosis, heart disease, lead to diabetes and make you fat.
About 10% of soda flavors contain BVO, or brominated vegetable oil, which is banned by the World Health organization and 100 countries.
* I would like to point out that once relationship with  aforementioned ex was terminated, the children and I wiped pop completely out of our diets.  Six months later, we were having a treat of pizza and thought we would have some pop with it. No one liked the taste of it and we ended up throwing it out.  Our body chemistry had rid itself of the attractant to the chemicals and sugar.  Yip yip yip yip uh-huh, uh-huh!

Mixing starches with proteins
I also learned that if you mix certain foods together it can also cause problems. I read a book, I can't remember the name right now..but it is credited in my book 'Through Someone Else's Eyes' Maybe I will remember it later.

Anywho, it states that you should not eat starches and proteins together.
When you eat a meat (beef, pork, chicken), a certain enzyme goes to work in your stomach to break down the food.  When you eat starches (potatoes, pasta, rice) a different enzyme kicks in. Amazingly enough, when these enzymes are in each other's company they actually neutralize each other.
So....if you eat a meat together with a starch, your body keeps trying to break them down, fruitlessly. (see what I did there?)
This easily explains why after we feel so tired after having a big dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy.  I always want to have a nap after one of those.
So we eat chicken with veggies...or mashed potatoes & salad.  We keep them separated.
And everyone is happy.
FIT FOR LIFE! that's the name of the book...it just came to me

Grooming products
I will keep this one simple....mostly because I'm tired and my fingers are cold (poor circulation)
Almost on a daily basis I have people, sometimes complete strangers tell me how much they love my hair and how young I look to have grown children.

Here are my secrets:
  • I don't wear make-up.  I believe it clogs the pores and does not allow our skin to breathe. I wash my face every morning with plain well water and one of my rough handmade facecloths.
  • I don't curl or blow dry my hair. I wash it at night and lay it up over my pillow to dry naturally overnight.
  • I shampoo my hair once a week.  At first I thought this would be gross.  But the oils that come out in the second or third day after shampooing are completely natural and therefore required to keep your hair healthy.  If left to do their job, the oils will work their way from root to tip and coat your hair naturally, without the need for expensive styling aids with long lists of ingredients and warnings.  This simple tip leaves my hair healthy, full-bodied and shiny.
  • I only use natural/organic/chemical-free lotions, creams or lip balms.
  • Each night before bed, I have a nice long relaxing bath to de-stress.  It helps me to sleep better and gives me a chance to slough off any dead skin cells. *ugh*
  • And while we're on the subject of stress.  I try to avoid it at all costs. I don't watch the news or listen to it on the radio.  I find it affects me physically and emotionally.  Years ago I realized I was very sensitive to others' pain.  I tend to take it on myself as a sympathetic gesture (unconsciously even) I strive to surround myself with positive loving people. This can sometimes be hard, especially in the workplace.  But I also believe that if you are not happy mentally, physically or emotionally in your workplace...then you should leave!  Which is probably why I have such a hard time finding a good healthy place to work.
  • Last thing I do before bed is spread a natural night cream all over my face. My most recent was 'Lavender Luminosity' by Avalon Organics. Before that was a citrusy orange cream.  I go to bed smelling great and feeling fantastic.
I did say I was going to keep this simple did I not? the best of intentions....cannot keep me on track (or something like that) my mind wanders

So there you have it....take all of my advice or none of it.  The choice is your's, of course.  But it is important that you are all aware of the facts.  My wish is that all of us, men and women are in control of our lives.  Whether it is your job, your happiness or your health.  The only one that can make these decisions is you.

Please make the right ones.
Who knows? You might just end up as happy and healthy as me.

Monday, October 6, 2014

who IS this man?

So as most of you already know I have finally found the one true love of my life.

He is perfect (for me) in every possible way.  He opens doors for me...and not just doors we are going through.  He gets out of the car and walks around to open MY door for ME.  I can't help but feel that I am in a 50's or 60's movie when this happens.  He rubs my feet for me at the end of a long day (even though his day is much longer than mine). 

If something is broke, he fixes it.
If something is wrong, he rights it.
He is my hero, my best friend and I am so proud to say, my husband.

And I love to watch him sleep.  He looks so peaceful.  And it makes me think about all he does when he is awake.  How hard he works.  How much he worries about having everything perfect.  For me.  For us.  I could just squeeze him he's so cute when he sleeps.  Of course I do that when he's awake too.  He loves it. ~cough~

So can someone please explain to me how...when he is asleep he becomes my worst nightmare?

If we are watching a movie, he will undoubtedly fall asleep.  This is because he rarely stops and is always working on something.  So when he finally does slow down enough for his body to rest, he quickly and I mean quickly....falls asleep.

We can be lying in bed...in the middle of conversation...he can be in the middle of a sentence and immediately start to snore.  And I know it can't be because I am boring...he was the one that was talking!

Anyway, I'm getting off track here.  If he falls asleep on the couch, I need to wake him up to get him upstairs.  I touch his face gently to wake him.
He opens his eyes. 
I smile. 
He blinks at me and glares.
'What are you doing?!'
'uhh..I'm trying to wake you up?...soo you can go to bed....and not have a sore neck...?'
~grunts and growls~ rolls over and ignores me~

Afterward he rationalizes that I must have scared him for him to react the way I explained.  Next time don't come so close to his face.

Next time, I touch his foot to wake him.  He kicks my hand away and snaps at me again. 
'I don't know what you're talking about, Dear' was what his reaction was to my question this time.  And he's getting agitated because he thinks I'm trying to start a fight.

So, the next time I stand on the other side of the room and call his name until he wakes up...softer at first and gradually louder till he flutters an eyelid.  This time he barks that I 'Didn't have to yell to wake me!'

By now I am furious....of course, each time I have been.  But it gets worse with each instance.  As I'm sure you can understand.  And of course, a short time after each of these occurrences he comes up behind me and wraps his arms around me telling me how much he loves me.  And when I stiffen up, still sore from the verbal lashing of his waking self....he seems hurt and confused.

What is happening here?  I think to myself.

So I gradually stop waking him.  At all.  Even from another room.  I start to bristle every time he falls asleep...afraid of what beast I might stir if I make too much noise.
Then he wakes himself up and sees that I have turned everything off and gone to bed.  He wonders why I have left him and subsequently feels hurt.  And I don't blame him.  I would feel abandoned as well.  And it hurts me to do that to him.  But I truly feel I have no choice.

This past weekend, we went to the drive-in.  He fell asleep during the second movie.  I didn't try to wake him.  It was a movie we've both seen a hundred times.  And I knew he was tired from working a full two week period with no day off.  When the movie was over, I slid my seat back up to it's original position.  And the click caused him to open his eyes.  Looking right at me.
'Thanks,' was his only comment.
'For what?' I said.  Thinking he was upset that he had missed the movie and I hadn't tried to end his nap.

He shook and stirred, smiling at me...apologized for falling asleep.  I said to not worry about it, he was tired.  Then I asked him again, why he thanked me.
He didn't know what I meant.  I said I did not wake him up.  He said it must have been a noise.  I said yes, my seat moving into the upright position made a noise.  But he had no idea what he had said or why I was so mad.

And this time, I must admit, I really was pissed off.  He is such a good man.  He would never allow anyone else to speak to me the way this 'whoever-is-speaking-when-he-first-wakes-up' does.  Which is why he gets so defensive because I am accusing him of doing it.  And which is also why I get so upset when he does it.  Because I know that HE would never do this.

The whole drive home. 
He was mad.
I was madder.

~and yes I know Dad...people don't get mad, dogs do...people get angry....but I was MAD!~

Finally I let out a long breath and said to him.
'Do you love me?'
   -'yes'
'Do you trust me?'
   -'yes'
'Do you think I would lie to you?'
  -'of course not'
'Then why do you think I would make this up?'
   - '......'

Complete silence the rest of the way home.
He cuddled up to me in bed.
And said he loved me.

But it wasn't until the next morning, when he woke me up and kissed me on my nose.  That he said he believed me.  Obviously I wasn't trying to cause problems.  He knew this.  But he felt like it was a slam at him.  And he would never act like that.

So we agreed to band together against the forces of evil (his sleeping self)
I said I did not like him and I wanted him gone.  He agreed.

I wonder if anyone else has had a similar experience with this.
I wonder if they would tell me.

We will work together to try and rid our lives of this other being who seemingly wants to cause problems.

  Whoever he is.

Friday, September 19, 2014

it's true...we have all lost someone

A Parent, Grandparent, a Friend, a Child...a Pet. Whether old or young, someone you love has no doubt already crossed over to the other side.  
Of course they are happy, free of illness, free of stress....free of anything bad.
But what does that mean for us?
The ones left behind.
I have lost both of my Parents, all of my Grandparents, many cherished Pets and dear Friends.  As hard as it is to say goodbye I have to believe that they have gone back to where we have all come from. Their struggles and lessons they came here to deal with are through.  And when ours are done as well, they will be waiting for us to come home...with open loving arms...or paws.


The name of the song that is playing in the video is 'When I Get Where I'm Going' by Brad Paisley & Dolly Parton. Definitely one of my favorite songs.


I made this video for all of those that have left us...to make you smile or shed a tear.  But mostly to remember, when we meet again there will be only happy tears.

One of the last things my Dad said to me
was how much he was looking forward to being with my Mom again.

Monday, September 15, 2014

My new office

Okay, so it's not a 'new' office.  I re-arranged my office furniture to create a new 'space'.
It seemed like a huge undertaking while I was planning it. But all in all took less than 2 hours.

Our upstairs 'loft' bedroom is large enough to have my office at the opposite end of our sleeping area. Plus we have a bathroom.  A tiny bathroom that I can't stand up straight in.  But who stands up straight in the bathroom?  So, essentially, I can work, take a nap, pee, wash my hands and get right back to work again.  The only reason I need to come downstairs is to re-fill by mug with tea. And grab a chocolate chip cookie warm out of the oven.  What? no cookies?  How can that be? Everything else is perfect.

Working at home, as you can see, has its abundance of advantages.  I can get laundry done, housework, no commute, faithful companion sitting on the top step keeping a watchful eye out for creepy passers-by.

I love to write.  If I could write all day long and get paid for it...that would be my dream life.  Sometimes I worry that I would run out of thing to write about.  But then I laugh...I have never run out of things to TALK about...so how could I not have something to write about?

Yesterday, we were at a hockey game.  My husband, Goose, oldest son, Jake and myself.  Not long after being in the cold air of the arena, my nose started to run. I mentioned it to Goose.  A conversation ensued that included an idea of a nose literally running around the arena up and down the steps.  From that moment on, there were many instances where I burst out laughing and could not stop...for no apparent reason to the other hockey fans.  They kept looking back and forth between me and the ice to see if there were any correlation.  And there, sadly, was not.

And that...just made me laugh all the more.

See?  There is no shortage of topics for this Lassie to discuss.  I find humour in absolutely everything.
Now..where was I?  Ahh..yes, the other direction my mind goes...'humour' and 'completely lost'.

I would love to say it has come with age.  That while talking to someone, or not even talking to someone....that I will blurt out something I am thinking about.  Be it a word or person I was trying desperately to place in an earlier conversation ....a completely new topic that I just thought of and had to share.  I would love to blame it on age...however, I have always been this way.  And I don't mind it.  It keeps me interesting...if even in my own eyes inclusively.

Tea mug empty - be right back.  Talk amongst yourselves.

Well, as you can see by my long delay in writing...my short trips usually find a way to becoming a 'Family Circus' adventure trail.  Anyone else remember those?
I was leaving the kitchen with my hands wrapped around my warm mug. I noticed that the washing machine had ended it's cycle.  Putting down my mug and picking up the laundry basket I proceeded to transport the clothes outside onto the line.  Faithful companion accompanying me of course...which turned into a squirrel hunt as she inched her way off of the back deck.  Wrangling her back in, letting the squirrel off with a warning...we headed back into the house.  My hot tea is now warm.  I pass by the livingroom window and see that I left the garage door open.  Now I realize I'm wasting valuable writing time, so I run outside all the way to the garage...grab the door and am overcome with the smell of my Dad.  He's been 'hanging around' the garage for weeks now, helping Goose with the final touches of truck rehabilitation.  I stop and absorb that feeling for a moment.  And I smile.
I get back inside, kick off my crocs, grab my tea and realize I have to go to the bathroom.

It's cold out today... my nose is running again.  And now my tea is cold.

What was I saying? my office.  Ah, yes.  Before my desk was facing a wall and I would have to turn my head a full 90 degrees to the right to see out my window.  Now my desk is facing a corner and I turn my head a grand 45 degrees to see out my window.  Great job. Cut. Print. The end.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fighting the Dragon

By now most of you have heard we've lost Robin Williams.
Another great man that we never truly realized how much he touched our lives, until he was gone.

And thanks to the media we are aware of the brutal details.  I honestly don't know how these people sleep at night.  Or the people that make the decisions that allow it.

I was shocked and saddened to hear he was gone.  Somehow it hurt even worse knowing that he was so troubled that he thought taking his own life was the only way to escape.

I know all too well about fighting the dragon.  I watched my Father do it my entire life.  Possibly his entire life.  He too, had an amazing sense of humour.  Which he used constantly to hide his pain.  I do it as well.  Now we know Robin did.  Other comedians as well, including Jim Carrey.

It wasn't until a few days after Robin's death, I learned there were people ...sick sick people attacking his family.  Saying horrible things, posting falsified photos...which have no other possible reason, other than to hurt these poor people.  People who have just lost their father, their husband..their friend.

I am so tired of celebrities being treated like trash.  Just because you don't like something they said...or didn't care for a movie or TV show they were in.  This does NOT give you the right to harm them physically, emotionally or otherwise.

They are just people.  They are normal people that get out of bed in the morning.  They eat their breakfast, they kiss their husband or wife and they go to work.  The only difference is their job happens to be on television.  Their reason for being there is to entertain YOU.  This does not mean you own them.  Although I do realize it gives us the feeling of knowing them, having them in our livingroom for an hour or two.  But they are still their own person.  With thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams.  And sometimes nightmares.

All I could think of was Robin's poor daughter...not even being allowed the right to grieve.  How dare these people?  What kind of person cannot open up their hearts to another human being in distress and offer support, compassion even love?

Not the kind of person I want to be around.

Then I heard a voice in my head.
It said, 'they did that to you..'

And in an instant I was walking into the room where my Father's 'funeral' would take place.  The room was full of my family and loved ones.  I had just lost my Father.  We all had.

But they had each other.
There were people in that room I had grown up with, played with, looked up to and given my heart.

During a time of loss....people say it is best to surround yourself with loved ones.  Or at least others that knew the deceased.  So you can share your memories, thoughts and stories.

I honestly did not know what to expect when I walked into that room.  But I had to go.  For my Father's sake.  And for my own.

When the ones I had been closest with throughout my life, turned their back as if they did not know me.  No, that is not right.  Even people I did not know came up to me to hug me and give their support.  They didn't care who I was.  They only knew I had lost my best friend.

Members of my own family turned away as if they hated me.  I will never understand what I could possibly have done to deserve that.  My mind has tried for years to fathom what a person could possibly do to have lost an entire family.  And no answer has ever appeared.

That's when I realized.  There is cruelty in this world.
Great cruelty.
And I should not be shocked by it.  Maybe it was because I am now used to it.  And I was shocked that it could happen to someone else.
But I should never be used to something like this.  No one should.

My Father fought this dragon for most of his life.  I tried to be there for him every chance I could.  It was not easy.  At one point I had to move away because it hurt so badly to see him struggle.  But I could not help him.  Even when I called every day to make him smile or laugh.  I still had no idea what he went through for those other 23 hours.

I sit here tonight typing to you on his computer.  I look through his pictures and try to keep as many settings the way he had.  It still says, 'Hello Mel' when I sign in.  I cannot change this.  How could I?

I found pictures, hundreds of them that he took of himself.
Many of them looked like this.  A few were happy.

This breaks my heart to think of what he went through when I was not around.
He spoke to me of the Dragon.  The dragon that lived inside that wanted him miserable, alone...or dead.  He said it was a never-ending struggle each and every day to survive.  Many times I thought it was a lead into a funny anecdote.  Or I would make a joke myself to try and lighten the mood.

He never gave in to the dragon.  He never pulled that trigger he so often referred to.  And for that I am so very proud of him.
I still lost him.  And I miss him every day.  I cannot imagine the thought of having lost him to that dragon.

Robin Williams family deserves their right to grieve.  They deserve their privacy.  And they also need to preserve their happiest moments and memories of their Dad.  Their Dad who worked hard to make so many other people laugh.  To maybe make their struggle with the dragon a little easier.

I know he helped my Dad.  I know he's helped me.  No, I don't have the dragon inside of me.
But I do live in this world.  I see the pain and suffering.  I see that we all need to try a little harder to reach out to others. 

I make a point of smiling and saying hello to every person I meet...every person that enters my personal space.  People ask me why sometimes. 
'Why are you so happy?'
And I say because I choose to be. (I really have no other choice)

And why is it so important to me that I smile at everyone I see?
Because my smile might be the only one they see that day.

My Dad had an amazing sense of humour.  Everyone that knows him will agree.
It is the most important thing he passed on to me.

And for that I am forever grateful.

Smile at someone.

Help fight the dragon.



Monday, July 28, 2014

~Autumn in July

I know, I know...it's been a long time since my last post.  I have no excuse other than working.
When my kids were little I had time to bake fresh bread and have cookies in the jar often.  Although then my full-time job was being a Mom and a housekeeper.

Now that the kids are all grown, you would think I would have more time.  But I have a full-time grown up job.  Which mainly means that when I'm not working, I'm tired from working.  I have money from my job so that I can help Goose pay the bills (for the house that we don't have time to enjoy and the vehicles that take us to our work).

My thoughts on that?

If we didn't have the house and car and all the things in between....we wouldn't need to work to pay for them. So then...we would have all kinds of time to 'play' with the things we no longer have.
~sigh~
There seems to be a vicious circle called 'Life' that is sucking it all out of us.

My perfect world would consist of a small wooden cottage out in the middle of nowhere.  We would have water close by, so that we could use our boat.  Not a large boat, even a canoe I would be happy with.  Something to glide over the water on an early morning while listening to nothing but the birds waking up.

We would have solar panels to power everything we need.  No obligation to the hydro companies and all their huge paychecks and severance packages.  A big garden to grow all of our own veggies.  No worries about what the big corporations are putting into our foods or listening for recalls on our daily sustenance.

An internet connection so that I can upload my latest writing pieces to my publisher and they can deposit my checks into my banking account...without ever leaving my loft.
Lots of trees for shade and shelter, grass and wildflowers...a stone path leading to our little pond.  With fish blowing bubbles up at me as I pass by.

The air is cooler in the last few days.  I am sitting at my desk with my sweater on and a warm blanket over my legs.  Why not just close the windows you ask?
Because then I would not hear the birds chatting on the tree outside.  Nor the tiny raindrops landing on the awning over the window.  There's something about a cool breeze like today.
It makes me want to buy school supplies and pick apples....bake pies.

So when I went into town today, I bought a turkey.  The smells that are wafting upstairs to my office right now are making it difficult to concentrate on working.
I broke up the bread and rubbed the sage and butter on.  And yes, making a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings is alot of work for one meal.  Which is probably why we only do this twice a year.

What makes it worth it?
The smell of a turkey roasting in the oven evokes memories of Christmases long past....Thanksgivings with the grandparents and cousins all sitting at the same table, everyone happy and excited, talking all at once.  Going outside after and playing in the leaves, enjoying the brisk breeze.  Feeling the...something..in the air that promises a new beginning...a new season, a new adventure.  Fall has always been my favorite time of the year.
Having that smell ....bring all that back for an entire day.  And seeing the look on Goose's face when he comes home and the memories proceed to puncture his work day.  All the stresses float away out the open windows.

That is why it is worth it.
I think our Mothers knew it as well.

So ...tomorrow it may be summer again with blistering heat and shade seekers abound.  But today, just for today...it will be my Autumn.



Thursday, May 15, 2014

~Through Someone Else's Eyes


My book, 'Through Someone Else's Eyes' is now available on Kobo.
Just sayin'

Kobo Books for your E-Reader

Can a smalltown girl raised in a house full of negativity and alcoholism find true happiness?
More importantly, does she deserve it?

How many times have you heard, You can't do this!  You're not smart enough, not pretty enough...You don't deserve anyone's love, it's not real...and you will end up alone...NO one will ever love you that much?!?

 What if ...the person saying it is you?

Emotional abuse, rejection and neglect hurt so much more than anything else.  Because your worst enemy becomes yourself.  Listening to that little voice holds you back from moving forward, achieving your goals and essentially living your life.

'Emelia' is created from love and showered with affection throughout childhood.  Then her world falls apart as her parents divorce.  A family once strong turns against itself.  Emelia finds herself alone as she enters adult life with an absent mother, an alcoholic father and siblings that turn their backs on her.  Looking elsewhere for love and acceptance, Emelia's path finds many puddles.

Can she put the pieces back together and move on?

Many of us had less than idyllic childhoods.  Mom and Dad are not always there to answer our questions nor do we have that older sibling to go to for advice.  Sometimes all we have is ourselves.  And even though I sometimes feel totally alone...I'm not, I still have me.
This story is one that will inspire anyone who is a child, has a child, or anyone that has ever loved and had that love taken away.  I am a 41 year old mother of 3 who is finally ready to break free of the fear of life and start living.  This book is about me, my life and things that I have learned.  My goal is to show that someone with hope and faith in themselves can get through anything.

Most people, young and old can relate to the issues facing 'Emelia' and how we don't always make the right decisions.  But we should never be ashamed of things we've done, because good or bad, those experiences make us who we are.  There are many self-help & feel-better books that are written by doctors, psychologists or celebrities.  However, sometimes the voices heard need to be from real people.
Like me.  Like you.


Kobo Books

~My Perfectly Redneck Husband

When I first met my dear Husband, he was a self-proclaimed rocker. Metallica, Guns n Roses, AC/DC.  He claimed to have never heard of George Strait or the Dixie Chicks.

'How do you not hear of the Dixie Chicks?' I thought.
'This should be fun...' was an afterthought.

Every time I listened to MY stations or MY music, it always included Country, with a mix of Rock, Classical, Blues...you name it, I love it.
But the looks I got when a country song came on, I thought he would be ill.
He is a good man, sexy, handsome, hard-working. He loves me and would do anything for me. So I thought it was a small price to pay.
Country music was put on pause.

Every once in a while, a Johnny Cash tune would come on. He would start moving to it...singing, tapping a foot. I said, 'What are you doing?'
'What do you mean?...that's not Country...'
'It sure as Hell is! Johnny Cash IS Country...he is the King of Country!'

I was a bit resentful of the fact that I was no longer 'allowed' to listen to my music. I know that he did not forbid it...but I didn't want to make him listen to something that would curl his hair. I'm a nice girl! But I really missed it.

He is a redneck. He has an old classic pickup truck that is loud & fast. He has tattoos, long hair and grease under his fingernails. He likes to ride his tractor with a straw hat and a cold beer onboard. How can he hate Country music? I pondered over this for years.
Finally, I decided if he was to listen to some of it unknowingly, say ...in a movie perhaps...get to the know the stories behind some of the songs and singers...it might make a difference.

We have movie nights.  We take turns picking the movies.  Hey, if I have to sit through Star Wars, Star Trek and Stargate over and over ....and over again.  He can watch a little 'Pure Country' with George Strait. 
'Why does it have 'Country' in the title?'
'Because it takes place in the country....trust me, it's a love story'
He liked it.
'Not bad...for Country music'

Months later, it was my turn again...'Shut up and Sing' starring the Dixie Chicks. Such a good movie, more like a documentary but still gets you fired up! And he loved the music. We laughed, we cried.
I thought, 'Well at least I get these small bursts of 'home' to keep my spirit going.'  I grew up with Country music. And a Dad that played the guitar, wore cowboy hats, raced cars and got into trouble. He WAS Johnny Cash!

Last summer when we got married, my little Redneck picked out the music and got it all ready.  There was a healthy dose of Dixie Chicks, Johnny Cash and George Strait...to name a few. His explanation?
'Well it's your day, too!' :-)
'Thanks Honey..'

One day a few months ago, we got into his car and the radio was tuned to a Country station. My head flew around to look at him.
He said, 'You know? There's some really good songs on this station...You can hear the words and there's actually stories to them!'
I said, 'Yeah...I know..'
It got so that every time I was in his car, we were listening to Country.  His radio in his garage is now permanently set to a Country station.  He sings along to them. Knows the words. And is learning some of them on the guitar.

'Yeah' by Joe Nichols and 'This is how we roll' by Luke Bryan and 'Automatic' by Miranda Lambert.
I had a hard time coming to grips with this complete turnaround.
'How come you're not singing along Baby Girl?'
'Because I don't know the songs....I haven't been listening for a few years!'
'Well, you should listen to this stuff!'
'Yeah...I should.'

But I'll get 'em back. Yeah, yeah, yahyeahyeah...

The other night, we watched 'Coalminer's Daughter' the life and story of Miss Loretta Lynn. It had been almost 25 years since I'd seen it. Hubby never had.  I remember Friday & Saturday nights at my Grandparents' camp up in the Tobique. We had a radio that played the Grand Ole Opry as I fell to sleep.  When Loretta walked up on that stage and was introduced for the first time I thought my heart would burst. Through my tears I turned and looked at my perfect Redneck husband with wet cheeks. I knew he had been bitten as well. It's just one more thing that we get to share now.
We laughed, we cried...we bonded in our love for Country :-)

~Paying your Dues

I woke up this morning thinking about jobs.  My last few have been doozies for sure.
My last three jobs have been in the Fast Food Industry.  A place where apparently only teenagers should work. A place where at my age, I thought I was too good to work.  But after three years of searching fruitlessly in a small town, your options become clearly limited.
After 20 years of raising my children, running a household and keeping my sanity I had accomplished the most complicated, heartbreaking, fast-paced stressful 24/7 position ever.  Unfortunately it leaves you with no salary, benefits, diploma or experience that looks good on a resume.
But who is to blame? My parents for not having money to send me to college or university?
Myself for not saving money for college or university?
My children for being born?
Of course not.  I would not trade my children for anything. The choices that I made led me on a path that brought me right to this moment. Sitting in my home office, listening to the birds singing and a warm breeze blowing through my windows. I have a wonderful husband that adores me. And I am working on a course that is allowing me to study to be a Professional Photographer.
My first job, other than babysitting in our community, was running a Summer Day Camp Drop-in Program at the Community Rec Centre.   Which was basically, babysitting :-)
But it was so much fun. I was 16. I worked with my best friend at the time, Jennifer. Parents dropped their kids off with bagged lunches.  And I think sometimes we offered refreshments as well.  We played hide & seek in the tall grass around the perimeter of the property. We taught the kids how to play 'Old Maid' with cards. We did crafts. It was great. There were a couple boys that we knew to expect trouble from every day. It frustrated the Hell out of us....but every time they smiled, there was no way we could stay mad at them. Chris and Joel seemed to know they weren't in serious trouble.  And they're probably frustrating the Hell out of someone to this day...but hopefully they can still smile their way out of it. :-)
My next job was at Shopper's Drug Mart as a Cosmetician. And then managing a Shoe boutique. While most teenagers around me worked at McDonald's and Burger King. Working their way up to better jobs or getting themselves through post-education.
I got married and had babies. Three of them, to be exact.
When I first went back to work, I did well.  Fell into positions that required experience I did not have, but also needed the personality and client handling that I could do blindfolded. So that was good and it allowed me to get experience to move on to better jobs. More hours, more money.
Then I moved to a small town. Where people have been at their jobs for decades and have no plans to leave. The only positions readily available were restaurants, because of students coming and going.
I finally got hired at a Tim Horton's. Where the supervisors were 19 & 20. And the power trips were unbelievable. I can't imagine telling someone 20 years older than me to go and clean the washroom and when they can and cannot go to the washroom themselves. There was such a lack of respect, it was horrible.
I moved to what I thought was a better place. Wendy's. Boy, was I wrong. In this position I was a Supervisor, which I thought would be better.  But the teenagers there, didn't think they had to listen to me because I was 'new'. I hadn't 'paid my dues'...after all, they had been there for months before me. When I discussed the issues with my new boss, he shrugged his shoulders and said there was nothing he could do to make them listen.
I said, 'Yes, there is...you could fire them!'
When I was their age, if you didn't listen to your boss, you didn't work!
How has this changed in the world? How have we become a society that has no control over the children? No control over our employees?
Something has to change in order for the natural flow of things to get back to normal. Children have no respect for adults anymore. Parents have no control. And this is what we call progress.
Employers have to remind themselves that they have a right to dismiss workers who don't work. Stop worrying about their rights and remind themselves they are doing these 'children' no favors by letting them away with insubordination.
Yes they are teenagers. Yes this is a fast food place. They won't always be there...hopefully.
But this job is also a stepping stone to getting them to where they want to be in the world.  If we don't correct inappropriate behaviour at this stage of the game...what will happen to them when they have a real job as an adult and they don't think they need to listen? Because they have not been taught.
My advice to every teenager I have worked with in the last year and a bit has been this:
"Get a good education, pay attention in school and stay in school....so you don't end up in a place like this when you are my age'
I hope they take me seriously.
So I might be a little late up to bat...but I am finally paying my dues. Sloughing ice cream day and night...studying Photography in my spare time.  I know what I want to be when I grow up.
And I can't wait to get there!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

~My Healing Retreat

A most extremely strange thing just happened...while digging in the garden, cleaning up and preparing for the new season...I noticed an injured bee. I hoped it wasn't me with my little hand rake that had hurt him...but who knows? He was sideways and couldn't get up. Buzzing his little wings, but unable to fly
I said, 'are you ok?'
and he extended a leg (that was at a very bad angle compared to his other legs) straight up and out against his back. I wasn't sure what to do, so I offered the end of my rake to him and he latched on with his remaining good legs.
I looked at him, struggling...wondering what I should do. I briefly considered putting him out of his misery. Then quickly dismissed it since he had obviously trusted me to help him.
Then I looked over at my newly constructed Faerie Retreat.
'I may not know what to do, but I know a great place you can stay!' so I carefully transported him to the Faerie cottage and gently set him down on the stone path, upside-down. With our combined efforts we quickly uprighted him.
Getting down on one knee I decided to get a good close-up look at a bee...how often do we get that chance? He scanned the scenery, apparently quite at home. He started walking around...then he decided to try out his wings again. They got him to the other side of the path. Then he did it again flying further, to the post next to the Faerie door. As he climbed to the top of it, I realized his 'hurt leg' was now pointed in the correct direction and functioning properly. As I was wondering when that happened, he flew away.
Leaving me sitting there, with my earth-crusted hands on my knees...in a stupor.
'Did I.....?'
'Did he....?'
Finally I got a clear thought...'Did I just heal that bee...? with my Faerie Retreat?'

As I attempted to get up, still in shock..at the bee that was almost dead a few moments before....I thought, 'Maybe he read the book..'

all I know is...I want to spend more time there!



Monday, April 7, 2014

~Julie, Julia & Melinda

So in my fervent sudden obsession with cooking...I found myself creating 'Warm Crostini with Roquefort Blue Cheese & Walnuts' and 'Warm Potato Salad with Garlic Mayonnaise' ...Did I forget to mention that I also made the Mayonnaise?

It was simply delicious and didn't take nearly as long to make as I feared. To what do I owe this sudden frenzy?

Why, I watched 'Julie & Julia'....it made me hungry...it inspired me...and seemed to give me purpose. 
So I grabbed my own cookbook, 'Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone'

No, it was not a Julia Child Cookbook.

And I'll tell you why:
   a. I don't want to be a lobster killer
   b. I don't want to 'bione a deck'
   c. I don't have a Julia Child Cookbook
   d. I don't want to be a 'lobster killer'

It was delicious.  My kitchen smelled marvelous.  The crostini ...with the bubbling cheese and walnuts made my knees weak.  I even got to use my new Italian bread dish. Goose claimed that the blue cheese smelled like old feet....but I ignored him.

I felt so....Martha....that as I was browsing the health food store looking for walnuts.  I'm sure the stockboy thought me a bit odd at how excited I was at the realization that I already had walnuts at home, after I had asked him where they were in the store.

But I don't care.  I was wearing my Day Off Pants and I worked today.

Julie took on the task of attempting these recipes every day for 365 days.  I have committed, and now it's in writing (oh darn!) to one new recipe a week.  Even if it means Goose gets to do one every other week, I will not falter.

I was a bit disappointed that Julia never took the time to get to know someone who loved her so much that she was willing to devote an entire year of her life, quite literally eating, breathing and sleeping Julia Child. Hell, she even dressed like her for dinner parties.

P.S. Don't get me wrong....I absolutely LOVE lobster....but I will never be able to throw a live one into a pot of boiling water.  I had horrible images of that long before Julie's sad incident.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, March 3, 2014

~Change isn't always a good thing!

So I have been shopping for ...let's just say a long time.

I have seen people buying clothes and sometimes have 3 or 4 of the same item, only in different colours.  And my immediate thought was 'Oh... to be rich!'

Or else I thought them to be lazy shoppers...you know, they found one thing they like so buying 6 of them will negate the long drawn-out process of shopping for the next three days to acquire the new wardrobe they so need.  Drag the rack to the checkout and be done with it.

Well maybe if I was rich, I could have my personal shopper come out and do all that for me.  The problem with that would be finding a personal shopper that is my exact height and weight so I wouldn't have to try anything on and have my hair standing on end with static cling.  My most favorite part of shopping, by the way.

Why in the world would I want more than one of anything, even if they were a different colour?
I just could not understand that. 

Then I had kids old enough to be doing the laundry.
You get where I'm going with this?

I had the perfect t-shirt, went with anything....dress pants, jeans, shorts...it fit me perfectly.  I loved that t-shirt and it loved me.  Then someone other than me did the laundry.  Don't get me wrong, I was very appreciative of the help.  But the shirt came out with huge bleach spots....and holes.

I was devastated.  But not as much as when I went back to the store to discover they no longer carried MY perfect t-shirt. 
If only......what?
That I had bought more than one, you say?  It might have helped, sure.  But it was far too late to be pointing fingers.

So the next time I was shopping for clothes...I believe it was in Sears... or Zellers.  I needed a sweater.  I am always cold nowadays.  I wish they made sweaters for your hands.  I have never been much of a cardigan-wearing-girl.  But I saw this 'SALE' sign and it was like a magnet.  The cheap Scot in me cannot pass a sale.  There were cardigans on the rack.  I tried on a dark grey one.  I liked it.  I liked it buttoned up.  I liked it un-buttoned.  I turned around in front of the mirror and I even liked the back of it.  It fit me perfectly!

And it was on sale.
Then I started to imagine all the horrible things that could happen to a fragile helpless cardigan in the washing machine, let alone the dryer.  I would need to instruct others, give laundry classes, post warnings....'SAVE THE SWEATER'

Then I realized I had enough money to buy 2 at that great sale price! 
I looked around.  I was alone.  I could do this.

Green is one of my favorite colors, so I grabbed a green one and headed to the cash with my beauties.
I wore my dark grey one until I could no longer claim it was 'cleanest-dirty' and very carefully placed it in the hamper.

Thankfully I had another one just like it to wear until it came back to me safely.
I went to the closet.  The green cardigan hung there anxiously awaiting my arrival.

I put it on.

Those two sweaters did not fit the same.  They were sadly fraternal twins...what did I expect?  They did not look alike.  They were different colors for Pete's sake! (reference to hubby here, did you catch it?)

Four years later, the green sweater has been off the hanger only twice.  And that was during desperate times indeed.

What have I learned here?
Never trust a person who hires someone else to do their shopping!