Sunday, January 29, 2012

Heavy Thoughts

January has been a long and difficult month.

I have no idea why. Perhaps it's the weather: temperamental and moody, given to flashes of nasty. Kinda like me. These days, I am feeling moody and every day I am faking something: cheer, understanding, clarity.


I struggle occasionally, with the winter blues, although I thought that last year was the worst I'd see. Last year, I thought I was prepared for second anniversary of my brother's death.

I was wrong.

This year, I am more prepared for the emotional wallop of missing him, of replaying that terrible day, when my world changed forever  but I am also terrified by it. This year, these long, cold weeks leading up to February 10th have almost (again) been my undoing:

I am unfocused and unmotivated at school, at home, at life.

Last week, I exercised twice and both times, it took EVERYthing I had to propel myself to go. At home and at school, I cannot summon up the enthusiasm to truly participate. I feel off-kilter, fuzzy and vaguely paranoid.

I yell.

Intellectually, I know that there are a number of factors contributing to this brief (please God, let it be brief) peine de coeur -  ti's the season, after all, for the winter blues. The holidays are over, money's tight, the monotony of routine yawns long before me, I'm thinking of Andrew, the laundry has overwhelmed me, the Reds are feistier than usual, blah, blah, blah...  This is what my mind tells me.

The rest of me doesn't care about any of it.

The rest of me doesn't want haul laundry baskets down the stairs, nor plan the week's menu or go for a long, brisk walk in the sunshine. Fuck that, says the rest of me. I just wanna sit here, in this patch of sunlight, watching dust motes dance.

And, says the rest of me, I want to eat. It's a frightfully strong compulsion, actually. Even as my brain registers what's happening, it's like my body is a separate thing, desperately longing for all things substantial and sweet: chips, bread, cheese, potatoes.  Baileys.

The rest of me scrambles to swallow the grief that rises, unexpectedly and at odd moments, but swiftly - always so goddamned swiftly - into my throat.

Down! Down! Stay down!

I will do anything, eat anything, to keep this grief at bay. I will eat mounds in order to shove grief and other feelings back down, away from the places where someone (including me) might see.

 I try to smother them with yummy breads and pastries for these carb-filled foods are heavy and dense and fill up the spaces left aching and empty, otherwise.


What?!?! What the hell did I just type there?
Did I just write that?

Yes, yes I did.

Is it true?


Yes, it is.

I am absolutely flabbergasted by this sudden insight into the "why" behind my weight. It's not, of course, the only reason I'm fat, because I know that my own lack of self-control and stick-to-it-iveness certainly don't help matters. And while I've  referred to myself as an emotional-eater before, I've never actually understood it.

But this  - this horrified realization that I am choking out my own heart - literally and emotionally -well... it has simply stunned me.

What an awkward, awful, truly astonishing truth. Wow.

I am embarrassed.  And crying. (And eyeing the calendar, trying to determine if this is actually PMS, run amok. Could this Hell be hormonally-induced?)

Mostly, I am questioning my sanity at publishing this post, for all the world to see.


For the first time in many, many weeks years, I feel lighter.

And it feels...good.

And you? How do you cope with the winter blues?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

International Day of Mourning and Memory

International Day of Mourning and Memory
January 23rd

This video was created by my classmate, Kristine.

The day itself, vigorously endorsed and promoted by the awesome Dave Hingsburger of Rolling Around in My Head, was actually inspired by a conversation that Dave had with one of my professors at Loyalist College.

 Remember. Mourn. Celebrate.

And then, read this SUPER-powerful post by Dave, about his cousin Mattie.

 Dave writes eloquently and often about how life is for him, disabled later in life. But this piece, written especially for today, is probably my favourite: it is heart-wrenching and furious, sad and wise, fragile and fierce, all at the same time.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

In Search of Courage

Dear Teacher,

Was chatting recently with a woman who works for Group Home X. She said that she finds that people coming out of DSW programs are too idealistic and have no idea how things "really are."

She has worked in developmental services for many years and said that it's very hard to secure full-time employment; mostly it's cobbling full-time hours from a series of part-time jobs. I'm OK with that, but am feeling discouraged by her attitude.

I found her to be a bit condescending, actually, when I explained some of the concepts we're learning, especially about helping people live their best lives. She claims that the reality is that most of the people she supports have no capacity/the wherewithal to even know that their lives could be any different and that I'd do well to "let go of my Pollyanna ideas." I gently tried to persuade her otherwise, but gave up as soon as her eyes glazed over.

I am still bothered by the exchange this morning.

 I guess I'm looking for the right words to use in these situations - how to gracefully assert that there most certainly is another way to support people, without coming across as condescending myself. And I suppose I'm looking for reassurance myself, that I will indeed have the confidence/tools to truly make a positive difference for people, in the face of this kind of complacency.

In the overall, it makes me more determined than ever to remember and absorb all that we are learning, which feels good. And right. But...there is a niggling sense that I will muck it up, somehow.

I know that my absolute responsibility is toward those I support - in many ways, this feels a lot like coming up against different parenting styles and following my own heart regarding the ways in which I parent my own kids, despite the opinions and influences of others. Despite my overall confidence, I worry daily that I will, in the end, muck it all up.

Photo courtesy of Photobucket

Is this something that you struggle/d with, when you actively support/ed people? Feeling a bit like you're up against it? How do/did you remain steadfast on a day-to-day basis? And how did/do you guard against feeling discouraged by the prevalent attitudes of those around you?

I am hoping (hopeful) that more time absorbing all that we're being taught will help strengthen my resolve (much like time to become confident in my parenting skills...erm, most of the time)

It's all well and good for me to express shock and dismay and indignance about the ways in which people with disabilities are treated, here from the comfort of my comparatively charmed life, but it's not enough. Every day, it seems, I read another article/story/anecdote about the horrible ways in which society's most vulnerable are treated. In fact, I'm finding that these stories are piling up at an alarming rate. Not sure if it's that because society is becoming more aware or it's just that *I* am, but the truth remains the same: things must change.

 I know that I must be part of that change as so many, many things in life have led me to this point, this place, this knowing and I feel compelled to do this work. But still, I worry that I too will -eventually -become complacent and de-sensitized.

I hate feeling this way. Hate feeling that I will do the wrong thing, muck it all up, fail at such an important task...even before I've tried.

Is this normal? Please, tell me that this concern - this fear - is normal and not some deeply-rooted personality flaw.

Your Student

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Smarter Than a First-Grader...

Ever worry that you'll never survive parenthood? That your kids really ARE smarter than you?

Yeah. Me, too.

But every once in awhile, I end the day feeling as though - for a brief, shining moment -  I know what I'm doing. Or that I'm really, really good at making it seem that way....

Here's a snippet of an hour-long POST-bed/lights-out conversation with Matthew, age 6:

Matthew: Mummy, did you know that some kids' parents give them treats when they're good?

Me: Is that so?

Matthew: Yes, it's true. Some parents give their kids toys when they're good at the grocery store, or just for being good without being told to.

Me: Wow. Those kids are lucky, eh?

Matthew: Yeah. Really lucky.

Me: Do you know those children personally or did you see them on TV?

Matthew: I can't remember their names, but I saw them one day.

Me: Oh, yeah? Where?

Matthew: At the grocery store. In their car. After they were done shopping and were sitting in their carseats, I saw their mummy give them treats.

Me: Huh. 'magine that. What was I doing, while this other mummy was giving her kids treats?

Matthew: Being mad because me and Luke didn't listen in the store and Luke ran away and I was sassy.

Me: Ah. I see.

Matthew at his devilish best. He's so cute, I'd forgive him anything.

*Brief pause for me to reign it in, having used up all my calm, measured tones on the above exchange*

Matthew: I think that other mummy must have been really proud of her kids, right Mummy?

Me: I'll bet she was. But, I'll bet she wasn't as proud of her kids as I am of you, right now.

Matthew: What?

Me: I am so proud of you, Matthew, for communicating your ideas and opinions to me so clearly. I love you very much. But I need you to know something else, too. It's very important. Are you listening?

Matthew: Uh huh!

Me: (in a tight, sweetness-laced-with-venom voice) The difference between me and that other mummy? I expect you to be good because it's the right thing to do, not because there might be a treat at the end of things.
That's not how it works in this family.(getting louudderr) IF I want to give you a treat because I can, then you'll get one. But you will not EVER  get a treat for doing as you're told, when you're told. (soft, deadly whisper) Is. that. clear?

Matthew: (dramatic, long-suffering sigh.) Yesssuh.

*Another pause for me to press my fingertips into my eye sockets, sending telepathic, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm soooo effing sorry!" messages to my mother.*

And then:

Matthew: Are you really proud of me for telling you all this stuff, Mummy?

*I freeze. Did he not just notice the yelling portion of this conversation? Could it be that he actually heard and picked out the one nice, Good-Mummy thing I really want him to hear, know, feel? Wow. I am rockin' this mummy-gig today. And here I thought I'd failed utterly. Pfffhhtt...*

Me: I am. I am very proud of you. You're a great communicator.

Matthew: Do you think you're proud enough that we can have ice cream for breakfast tomorrow?

Me: Uh, no.

Matthew: (giggling) It was worth a try, right?

That is was, my son. It was certainly worth a try.

And you?
Been outsmarted, outwitted, outmaneuvered and/or outfoxed by your kids lately?
 Tell me all about it.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Quinte's Biggest Loser 2012 is Gonna Be....


Yep. This is IT, dear readers....

I'm putting all of me (and there's far too much of me, these days) out there and have registered to participate in Quinte's Biggest Loser, a fundraising initiative from Belleville General Hospital Foundation.

I am excited. And nervous. But I have been steadily gaining weight for years and Luke calls me "Squishy."

I hate squishy.

So, beginning Monday, January 9th, I will be working these squishy bits off and making changes that ought to have been made long ago. The Reds deserve a mummy who can keep up and show them - not just tell them - how important it is to stay active and healthy.

If you're so inclined, please consider sponsoring me - it's a great cause and every donation is tax-deductible. Here's the link to my personal page:

If donations aren't your thing, please consider leaving encouraging comments below. While I am SUPER good at starting things, I am not so great at staying motivated, so I need all the help I can get!

Better yet, JOIN IN! How lovely it would be to have you along for this awesome ride!