Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Dummy

I fell in love with Dixon first.


From the moment I saw him. It was love at first sight. I like to think on both our parts.

July 1st, 2012. It was swelteringly hot.

It was the first time the Sidekick and I met. He was driving up to Kelowna to pick up his newly adopted dog and I decided to go along for the ride because ... well, I love a good adventure and apparently had disregarded all those 'stranger danger' lessons I sat through in elementary school.

The road trip was awkward. Uncomfortable. The conversation oddly one-sided. At least on the ride back I had someone to talk to, Dixon. The dog. By the time I was dropped off at my house, I was sure I'd never hear from the Sidekick again, which was really sad, because I loved his dog. I even covertly snapped a blurry picture when our driver stopped for gas.


Now, for anyone who knows me, they might say I love all dogs. This is true. I do. I am a dog lover. But the affection I had for Dixon ran deeper than blanket dog-love. He reminded me of my first pup Patches - his big meaty head and stinky farts - and it was a miserable thought thinking I'd never see him again. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. And, as the story goes, I ended up falling in love with his Dad too. But this isn't about the Sidekick. It's about the big dummy.

Dixon.


So, yesterday was a terrible day. Dixon's diagnosis was confirmed. Cancer. Lymphoma. It's not a curable cancer. He's dying. And that sucks. Big time. Because Dixon is not only a big dummy. He's not just our family dog. He's my best buddy. He's my friend. My shadow. He fills every room he is in. And he isn't just a big presence because he's doofy and clumsy and snores like a fright train coming down the tracks. He's a big presence because he takes up every inch of my heart.


We spend a lot of time together, Dixon and I.


Over the years, we have adventured and explored a vast majority of the island together. If you see me out walking, it's a guarantee it's probably with Dixon in tow. I can't say for certain how many miles we've gone but suffice to say it's far. And the things we've seen and done - you wouldn't even believe it if I told you. He's rolled in rotting fish and deer, he's stood on a dead sea lion, and he's fetched a dildo out of a creek bed. He's been afraid of bridges, benches, and birds. We've found many buried treasures and witnessed breathtaking sunsets. We've climbed mountains, waded through rivers, swam in the ocean, slept on the ground, rolled in the grass, been drenched in the rain, clomped through snow, slipped on ice, and been spooked by random noises in the woods.


As much fun as Dixon has been, he's also been a world of heartache. From allergies to hematomas and everything in between, this guy has had me worrying from the word go. There was the inexplicable head tremors he experienced a couple years ago that had me laying awake at night just holding him tight. And let's not forget the ruptured ligament from six months ago that had him limping for half a year. There was the swollen mouth from a bee sting, a bug bite on his tail that made it swell up like a balloon, the chewing of the paws so the pads came off, and the constant scratching from allergies. Every time I turned around he was wounded somehow. It was almost as if he didn't know how to be healthy. When he was doing good, something inevitably would go wrong. He honestly is like an accident waiting to happen.


Even worse, he's destroyed so much. He literally chewed his way out of his crate! A metal crate! He's chewed Ray Bans, hats, doorknobs, shoes, Tupperware, and anything else he can get his mouth on. He chewed through doors people. Two of them. Right through two doors! Let's also factor in all the things he's eaten, like a tub of margarine, which he promptly puked up ... not in one go, of course, but in seventeen uniquely greasy piles. He's devoured loaves of bread and cookies and a bowl full of chocolate one Christmas. Just tonight he tried to sneak one of the Sidekick's cookies off the coffee table. He is a vacuum. A very sweet and lovely vacuum.


The memories are aplenty. I find myself reminiscing these days and my heart is so very heavy because I just can't even imagine what life will be like without his paws dragging on the floor, without his puppy dreams, without his whining at the door, without his zooming around after a poop, without his cold wet nose, without his tongue lapping up my bath, without his mooching, without his pulling on the leash, without his stepping on my feet, without him laying behind me while I cook, without his cleaning food off the floor, without his nose prints on the glass. Without his everything.


It's hard to focus on now and not dread what's to come. But I am determined and dedicated to making the rest of his life absolutely wonderful. I want him to have fun. Each and every day, I want to do something nice for him.More than anything, I want him to know he's loved. To feel loved.


Today is National Puppy Day. I never knew Dixon as a puppy. Sure, he's my puppers, but I never knew him as a little wee one because he was over a year old when we rescued him. Still, I celebrate him today. I celebrate the life we've lived and the life we are going to continue to lead. Above all, I celebrate the fact that we have time. Time to snuggle and kiss and walk and play. Time for me to bury my face in the meaty folds of his neck and weep. I don't know how much time, but if it's a day, I am thankful. If it's a week, I am grateful. And maybe we will get lucky and it will be months. Or even a year.


So, I have wrote out Dixon's To-Do List and each day we will tackle a couple things he loves to do. If you'd like to follow along and get to know this amazing guy a little better, you can do so on Dixon's Super Awesome Instagram Account. And if you don't have a dog and you are thinking about getting one. Don't. They are just heartbreak covered in fur. 

Obviously, you shouldn't listen to me and you should go adopt and rescue a puppers ASAP. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Dear 2017

Dear 2017,

I know you're only just arriving and have barely had time to unpack your bags, but I want to head you off at the pass just in case you don't receive the hospitality you may be expecting. The truth is, you might need a little extra time to accustom yourself to the state of the world. Honestly, 2017, I fear you don't know what you're in store for, so I'm here to debrief you.

Right about now you may be noticing that 2016 hasn't been a great year for everyone. In fact, this is the most negative New Year's Eve I've ever been a witness to. Yes, there are a few unique individuals who had amazing years but the vast majority feel as though they've been thrown in a burlap sack and tied to the back of a bumper of a truck that happens to be off-roading on the most brutal terrain known to man.

It's been a rollercoaster ride. And not a new shiny rollercoaster but one of those rickety old wooden ones, the kind you truly think may fly off the rails at any given moment. So, 2017, I sincerely hope your not too discouraged and that you understand why so many people are eager to see 2016 laid to rest. The pressure is great and there is a lot resting on your shoulders.

For myself, it has been an incredible year of highs and lows. While I have watched in stunned silence as Britain voted to leave the European Union and America voted in Donald Trump, I have also been heartbroken over the Syrian war, the pipeline protests, horrific mass casualty attacks, and the water crisis in Michigan. More than anything, I am devastated by the fear and helplessness so many of my friends are experiencing and those emotions are truly reflected all over the globe.

On the other hand, I have my son. My beautiful, warm, charming, utterly hilarious son. This year has seen his first birthday, his first steps, his first solid foods, and first real words. He has brought me immeasurable love and joy which made this year better than so many of my previous ones. He is wickedly smart and so damn sweet. But he is also the reason why I am afraid.

You see, 2017, I am frightened of you. While people want to be rid of 2016 I'm scared that I will miss it by the end of next year. Of course, I want to be an optimist but the very real truth is we don't know what's coming down the pipe and what's to come might just be worse than what has been. And I look at my son and I worry about the world I've brought him into. I want him to know love and kindness. I want him to know understanding and compassion. I long for him to grow up in a world where he can be who he wants and love who he wants. I desperately want to believe we are good and that the good will stand up and defeat the bad but 2016 left me feeling that the bad guys won. That is unacceptable.

It's unacceptable not just for my son but for all of us. Don't we all want to live in a world where good wins?

Here's the thing. I can't change the world. I can't stop wars.  I can't eradicate racism and homophobia. I can't wipe out poverty. Not on my own at least. Together we might be able to. It starts with our own backyard. And it starts with kindness.

Under normal circumstances, I don't do New Year's resolutions. But nothing about this last year has been normal. In the wake of 2016 and having witnessed so much unhappiness for others this year, maybe it's time. Here it goes...

My resolution is simple and not very unique.

I resolve to be kind.

First, I will be kind to myself. Because people who are kind to themselves are more likely to be kind to others. I will treat myself better and stop tearing myself down. Not only for myself but for my son. I don't want him growing up witnessing his mother being mean to herself. I want to show him how to love and respect himself and that can't be done when I'm appalled at my gargantuan thighs or calling my writing gutter trash.

Next, I will be kind to my friends and family. To the people who love me and never ask me to change or be someone I'm not. I will work to engage with them and give my love, understanding, compassion, and humor. I will not judge them or criticize because I know they have already judged and criticized themselves enough.

I will be kind to the Earth and all the creatures on it. I will be kind to the trees and the animals and the bees and the spiders.

And lastly, I will be kind to the people I encounter throughout my day. I will hold doors and smile. I will offer kind words. I will strive to connect and have genuine moments with strangers and acquaintances alike. I will offer friendship to people from all walks of life in hopes of teaching my son the value of each person. My kindness will not be subjective and it will not be complacent. It will be strong and determined. It will be formidable. In kindness, I will stand up for what's right and strive to provide a safe place for anyone who needs it.

So, 2017, I may not be able to change the world or the outcome you have in store but I can change my backyard. I can change every interaction I have. And I can change how I move through life. From today and onwards, even in the face of grief and anger and frustration, I will work to be kind. For myself. For my son. For the earth. For everyone.



Monday, October 10, 2016

Ho-Hum

Lately I've been knee-deep in a blue sort of feeling and it's so strange. So encompassing. So heavy. So unwanted, truthfully. Thick as mud and just as hard to get out of. Damn wheels are stuck and we all know I'm rear-wheel drive.

Usually, October is my jam. Pumpkins and horror movies, sweaters and new seasonal colour palette - that riot of orange, yellow, red and brown, what's not to love? What's not to celebrate? Every other year, I've looked forward to saying goodbye to summer (good riddance, summer, with your tiresome heat that causes my meaty thighs to chafe) and hello to Autumn (Hello, warm blankets and big mugs of hot tea (well, actually, lukewarm tea. If you know me at all, you know I don't drink my tea while it is hot. It's a quirk, I suppose).

Except, this year is different. (You know how I am not equipped to handle different)

At first, I thought it was because of the baby boy's first birthday. Yes, he turned one. (Certainly I deserve some sort of praise and cake for this?) And yes, I was unusually emotional. Like the weepiest of all the weepers. I couldn't believe how often I welled up at the thought of him turning a year old. It was, to say the least, headache inducing and annoying. (You know how I am when it comes to feeling the feels.) I thought, for sure, I was being ridiculous, but word on the street is that being a mother is a very emotional business. In truth, I am not cut out for all these feelings. They are exhausting. So, I was sad. Very sad. But also hugely happy and excited about the baby boy turning one. After all, we made it a whole year together. It was both a blink of an eye and the longest period of time simultaneously. 

That was back in August. In September, I chalked it up to the change of seasons and the lack of warmth. Rainy days are great for reading a book but not so wonderful for adventuring with the wee one. We try to get out and explore for a couple hours a day. Hard to do that when the heavens are throwing a temper-tantrum of epic proportions.

Still, I thought for sure once October hit, I would be back to my joyous self. Actually, no one has ever used the word 'joyous' to describe me. So, let's not get too hyperbolic. Exaggeration is fine in moderation. Lo and behold, I did not feel excited about October. In fact, it turns out, I became even more morose. Confounding, I know. 

Now, it's ten days in, and I've yet to shake this melancholic mood. It's Thanksgiving today and I have many things to be thankful for. I try to focus on that, but you know how sadness creeps in until it has coated everything with its weepy residue and no matter where you sit or stand you get it all over you. The truth is, I don't foresee a turn around in mood any time soon because, and I know this is going to come as a shock, I am moving again (YES, AGAIN). And I started thinking, maybe this is why I wasn't enjoying October in my typical Halloween obsessed fashion. 

Even though we have a crazy landlady and an ant problem, I actually like living here. I have good memories. Like the most important recent  life-changing memory ... baby boy's arrival home. This was his first home and, for some weird reason that I'm sure other mothers can understand, I am sad to say goodbye to it. I know in my heart our next home will be just that, our home, but this one is special because we spent so much time together here. We grew so much here. I became a completely different person here. And that's the most truth I have written in a very long time. 

I learned to love another human unconditionally here. This is where my universe shifted. In this house, where I write this, I became a mom. I figured out how to be a mother. And I brought my son here. He learned to crawl here. He learned to say 'mom' here. He learned to eat food here. He learned to walk here. His first smile was here. My life was given new meaning here. 

If that won't trip you up and make you feel a bit sombre, I don't know what will. 

Also, the house we are moving into at  the end of the month is much smaller (cozier). 

Do you know what a smaller home means? Less space. 

So, I have been purging. And by purging, I mean throwing out my life. You wouldn't believe the things I've gotten rid of. There is still so much more to go through. It's daunting, really. I have donated, consigned, sold and thrown out so much of my life. So many things I was holding on to. At first, when I found myself knee deep in sentimentality, this was hard. Really hard. I felt as if I couldn't let anything go because I'd be hurting someone, or myself. That I would be letting go of who I was. The girl I used to be. 

And you know what ... sometimes you need to do just that. 

When I seriously started to get down to business, when I stopped moping and getting all boo-hoo over this junk, when I finally pulled my purge pants on and actually started giving things away, selling them, throwing them out - it got easier. With each thing I donated, it was easier to toss something else. Until, I looked around and thought, Well, shit, this is all just stuff. 

Now when I look through a box labelled 'my past', I don't see the people I used to love or memories we shared. I see things. Things that have been sitting and collecting dust. And some of these things I have moved around with me since I was seventeen years old! Do you know how many moves that is? Let me think ... Surrey, New West, Main, 14th, back to Surrey, another place in Surrey, to the Island, and to here ... that's eight damn moves! And do you think I even opened those boxes? Or went through that stuff? 

Big. Fat. Nope. 

So goodbye pirate shirt, I might fit you again but I will never wear you. Goodbye ex-boyfriend boxes full of twenty page love letters and mixed tapes. Goodbye scrap books of ticket stubs and weird advertisements. Goodbye jewellery I've had since I was sixteen, no one needs three dog chain choker necklaces. Goodbye wedding dress with the wine stain from Leppy. Goodbye random tooth I had pulled when I was eighteen. Goodbye first tattoo design which I seriously regret having now. Goodbye all this crap. 

Because these things may serve as memories, but you know what else does. My memories. In my brain. I still have them. They are all stored up there in meticulous order. And if one day I no longer have my memories, then these items will be useless anyhow! 

Okay, so maybe I know why I'm in a funk. Birthday. Moving. All this change. And I know I am terrible with change. There's been so much of it in the last couple years - the business, the baby, the job. It's basically been a complete overhaul. And now all this purging - it's hard work, you know. I suppose even the brightest beam of sunshine might be disenchanted by this act. All these items, they fill up our lives, don't they? It's almost as though this stuff defines us in some weird way. It is nice to have a few trinkets to hold onto to remind us of who we once were and how we got to this point. But we are not the same people we used to be and, you know what, it is okay to let that person go. I think letting go of who you once were is freeing because you no longer have to compare yourself to her. 

You can simply be who you are now. And maybe that's something I can look forward to. 

Then I can start working towards the girl I want to be.*

*a girl who isn't in a funk


And now a picture to sum up the chaotic beauty of my life: 


Monday, June 6, 2016

Miscommunication

Sometimes we say things and, even though we say them correctly, they aren't heard that way. When you live with someone, you're bound to experience some form of miscommunication. I try to enunciate and speak loudly, but there are times I get lazy and a mumble comes out. If all else fails, I have been known to get my point across with dancing, wild gesticulations, and exaggerated facial expressions.

Still, there are times when the Sidekick and I are not on the same page.

Here is one of those occasions.

It was a hot and balmy evening last July and I sat in the groove of the couch where my bum fit so perfectly because I'd been working diligently to build a nest. My nearly eight month pregnant form hugged a pint of non-dairy ice cream between my thighs and I stared at the television, intently binge watching Call the Midwife. Like any good spouse, I often regaled the goings-on of the show to the Sidekick. Not because he cared but because that's what we do.

We talk at each other about television, sports, music, people and events the other person doesn't really care about but has to listen and respond because that's what a relationship is all about. Listening to crap you don't want to know just because the person telling you is someone you love.

Anyhow, on this such evening, I was thoroughly engrossed in the midwifery, most likely because Chummy was being the chummiest chum , when who should enter the room? The Sidekick.

He comes in and asks, "Which one's Carl?"
"Excuse me," I say, partly because I was so focused on the show but also because I thought I misheard him.
"Which one's Carl?" he repeats.
Of course, I do what anyone would do in this situation, I simply stare at him waiting for more information to which he says, "Carl the Midwife! Which one is Carl?"
Blink. Blink.
"It's Call the Midwife!" I exclaim. "Not Carl!"

And to this day, whenever I need a laugh, I remember how the Sidekick thought I was watching a show about some dude named Carl running around trying to be a midwife.

So, you see. If 'call' can be 'Carl' then surely other words can be masquerading about causing issues where there shouldn't really be one. Suddenly, "Honey, can you grab some peas?" turns into "Honey, can you stab the police?" and we are in a mighty strange predicament.

In the end, always speak clearly and, if possible, write it out on a sign.

My photo-shopping skills are incomparable. 



Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mental Health Awareness

To be honest, I've always been a fairly anxious creature. I have, in fact, perfected the art of worrying and I grow more adept at it as time passes, especially now that motherhood is in the mix. There are times when the walls of reality seem to be closing in on me and I have no idea how I will escape being crushed by circumstance. When I should be sleeping, I lay awake and think of scenario after scenario of failure and conjure up horrible what-ifs. Certainly not every night, but enough  to cause  a bit of concern. You see, no matter how tired I am, my brain refuses to rest ... and it's exhausting. Though it is hard to admit, I am afraid of what is, what could be, and perhaps a little of what was. I second-guess and doubt as effectively as any worrisome warrior or neurotic ninja. And truthfully, I know this obsessive worrying isn't healthy.  I tell myself to stop but I've always hated being told what to do.

So, why am I mentioning it?

May is mental health awareness month. And we should be talking about it.

See, it's hard to confront one's own demons, to put bare our troubles and seek help, but these matters of the mind are nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, they are more common than one might think. For we all struggle, even the most bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Why? Because life isn't easy. This society we've built and the rules we've created can make it impossible to see the light through the darkness.

It's easy to become trapped under the weight of our own neurosis, to allow our depression and anxiety to suffocate rational thinking. In this world we exist, it's easy to lose touch with those we love. And sometimes it is second nature to feel alone.

When we are stuck beneath the tar of self-hate and uncertainty it is easy to stop talking and withdrawal. It becomes normal to think no one is listening. So we turn ourselves inwards and allow that tiny voice in the back of our heads to fill our existence with irrational thoughts. All of a sudden simple things like going out or dialing a number is a mountain we have to climb.

And sometimes you don't have the energy to put your shoes on or change your underwear let alone scale a mountain.

Don't let that little voice dictate your world.

Allow conversations to happen for they can change an outcome. Communication is a luxury we don't always utilize because sometimes the simple act of sharing is terrifying. But without talking, without telling the truth about the monsters hiding under our beds and lurking in the closet, we will never touch the lives of anyone else.

If I can help someone feel a little less alone and perhaps a little closer to the light, then maybe the sleepless nights are worth something.