Acoustic Neuroma Chronicles: The Troll

My thoughts have been traveling to new possibilities lately. I have finally let go of who I thought I might be or what I thought my life might look like. Let me tell you, that is not easy. The Universe has been giving me opportunities to learn about Shoulds.

With physical limitations and the acceptance that my life is just going to be different, I realized it doesn’t have to be bad. I thought I was headed down a certain path and I came to a bridge that spanned a deep and dark stream.

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Under that bridge was a Troll who had me by the ankle. I reached over to the branch of a very large tree that I thought was going to rescue me, save me and keep me on the path I was headed.

The struggle was long and hard and I fought the valiant fight. But I became weak and tired and couldn’t hang on any more. I cried, struggled and finally the branch slipped from my grasp. The branch did not care about my struggles, the branch was perfectly happy just standing there watching, it may have even mocked my pain a bit because it could not relate. It was a branch, it was not me.

As I tumbled into the water below I feared the Troll. I could see the branch snap back into place and turned away from me. I flailed around the deep dark water in the shadow of the bridge and the branch of the very large tree. As I called to the branch for help, it ignored my pleas. Of course it did. It was a branch, why was I expecting it to be something it was not? I had to accept it for what it was and I mourned the loss of the safety of the branch.

I realized I had stopped flailing about in the water and I had begun what was instinctual. I began to tread water. The current slowly pulled me away from the shadow of the great tree. I could no longer see the branch as an individual but saw the tree as a whole. It was dying. Witches Broom had taken root on another branch and was taking its life away as parasites do.

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It left gnarled branches and twigs that twist and bend in the wind. I felt a sting on my hand, the branch had left a deep cut from my struggles. I knew it would leave a scar.  I realized the branch could not have possibly saved me because it was doing the best it could to survive. As the current continue to pull me away. I noticed the branch I had been pulling on crack in the wind. It was not as strong as I had thought. I too had left a mark and new we were both on separate paths.

As the current pulled me further down stream it turned me towards the opposite bank. I saw the Troll standing on the shore.I felt fear. As the water pulled me closer, I saw it was a trick of light that made the troll appear as a hideous and fearful creature. While the Troll was deformed it had gentle eyes as they peered into mine.

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I could see compassion in the face of the troll. The kept pace with me as I floated farther down stream. I was no longer feeling fear but I was unaware of what this emotion was.

The stream led me to the elbow of the river. The bend was filled with rocks that created rapids. I felt fear again.

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I looked over to the Troll who was now my only hope. I reached for her hand and she did not reach back. She tilted her head and sat on the ground lifting her legs. She was showing me how to navigate. I turned to face the rapids and I lifted my legs to a sitting position. Memories flooded back. I remembered how to do this, I remembered how to steer with my legs to navigate safely around the rocks and while I was slightly injured with bumps and scrapes, I got through fine.

I looked over at the Troll who was still keeping pace with me and I smiled and waved. The Troll smiled back. I could see she was relived I made it through okay.

As the current pulled me further down stream, I could see birds overhead.

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They dropped stones while circling above. They were trying to hit me, I had no idea why. I covered my arms over my head to protect myself and I looked over to the Troll. The Troll tilted her head once again and made movements with her arms. I realized she wanted me to swim. I had forgotten I knew how. I rolled over to my belly and swam close to shore under the protective cover of the branches. The birds lost sight of me and left.

I turned over and floated once again and waved my hand in thanks to the Troll. The Troll smiled.

I looked to the sky and noticed it was not dark like it was when I was on the bridge. I looked to my right and saw sunshine dappled through the trees. When I was on the bridge I saw shadows over take the sunshine. I closed my eyes for a moment to absorb this feeling at I couldn’t identify. All I knew was I didn’t have the same feeling of fear and anxiety as I did when I was on the bridge.

The sound of the stream became louder, in increased in decibels and became a roar. My eyes flew open and I saw a flash of fear in the Trolls eyes. She ran ahead and climbed up on a fallen tree that spanned the width of the stream. She reached her outstretched hand before me and grasped mine as I floated beneath her. In a single motion, she pulled me to the safety of the log.

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She sat beside me breathing heavily with relief. She hugged me gently and lifted me off my feet in a warm embrace. Carefully she put me down on the mossy covered log and showed me what she had rescued me from.

The stream had taken me past the bridge where I had started. I could see the bridge across the meadow and it was leading into darkness.

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The branch that I had wanted to save me was gone and broken with some pieces on the rocks below. The Witches Broom Parasite had destroyed the branch and the bridge was crumbling into the darkness of the forest. The log I was on had saved me from the waterfall below and I watched as pieces of the branch tumbled over the side never to be seen again.

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I was saved in a manner that I had not expected. I trusted where I was told to fear.

The Troll lead me across the log until I was safely on solid ground. She smiled at me and hugged me once more. Then she let me walk forward into the sunshine. I then recognized this new feeling. It was peace and I knew everything would be okay.

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Acoustic Neuroma Chronicles: Rage

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I have always felt this way…Always. Virginia Woolf and I are clearly thinking the same thing. Except for the rocks in the pocket when swimming thing, I totally get her. Although, I do understand that depth of despair. I am not there now, but I get it.

My daily life has filled me with rage and frustration lately. Some of it is directly connected to my acoustic neuroma and some of it is a by-product or side-effect of it and some isn’t connected at all.

It starts with being left behind. I am watching the running community leave me behind. I see them, understand what they are talking about but can no longer share in their goals. It has created a divide between me and my friends. Now I find I need an intellectual group of friends to converse with, I tried that by building a book club and that went nowhere. Its hard to converse about books when there isn’t a conversation to begin. I am seeing things I worked so hard to create slip through my fingers. Mostly because of choices I have made to distance myself from an attitude and behaviour I can no longer support. I have the urge to to seek out new adventures but am limited by ability and means.

I feel clumsy and awkward, unable to do simple tasks like walk on a flat sidewalk. I was walking towards a building and on level ground and felt like I was walking down a flight of stairs. The sensation is disturbing. I am not getting enough sleep because I crave alone time. I have not had enough time to be alone with my own thoughts so I stay up later in an effort to carve out time to rejuvenate my soul. This gives me less sleep, it affects my memory and makes me clumsy.

People commit their time to me and then brush it off or decide that the commitment is too much, so it wastes my time that I could be using for me. Angry does not begin to describe how I feel about people at the moment. It fluctuates between envy, anger and disgust. I wish I could blame people but I have brought every last thing upon myself.

No one is to blame but me.

I know if I get 8 hours of sleep, reduce my sugar intake and take an hour every day in quiet thought and reflection, I am calm and peaceful. If I let any of these things slip from my grasp, I feel rage and anger in ways that is unfair to those around me.

There I times I get flashes of past scenarios that fill me back up to the brink of anger. I know from experience that eating properly, getting enough rest and quiet mindful moments bring me back to centre where I can let go of the past and focus on the now.

Lately my life has been filled with me over committing. Doing things I don’t want to do, but not wanting to let down dear friends. Here is my mantra that I have lost:

No.

I used to be that girl who never said yes. Now that is all I seem to do. I need to cocoon myself for a bit so if you ask me to do something, I am going to say no. I am not coming to your party, I am not volunteering to help you out, I am not coming to support you in your endeavours.

I have let myself spiral out of control and that has magnified my symptoms in ways that nearly shame me. I know I shouldn’t feel this way yet I do. Today I was speaking with my friends on Skype and I could not recall the words I needed to be coherent. I opened the fridge door to gather items for dinner, lost my balance and grabbed the door spilling the contents all over my kitchen floor. I woke up early to volunteer and have that person I was working with not show up, this required me having a nap. Naps are not the same as uninterrupted sleep. I do not cope well with sporadic rests. I need more.

I have really let myself down.

There was a time when doing these things would just mean I was tired and cranky, but my symptoms become magnified, even to me. It is time to pull back and re-focus. I do not want to rage any more. I miss that peaceful easy feeling of normality.

My appointment arrive today from my Neurosurgeon. A MRI followed up with a visit to him. I need to get myself back on track to show progress. I know what works and I know how to do it.

Raging is not the way forward that suits me best. I desire more.

Acoustic Neuroma Chronicles: Off my Game

I have had a pretty good run of late.

I had a chance to speak with an old running pal this week. We hadn’t seen each other in forever and I was surprised to learn that she also sported a hearing impairment. Her’s is for different reasons and is treated differently, but it was nice to find commonality. The longer I live the more I learn that people are more alike than different. If you take a moment, you can really relate to almost anyone on some level. My runner pal was no different. What we both agreed on was either we were less dizzy and our symptoms have improved or we have become accusation to them.

My Doc says its the second one. My dizzy never really goes away, I just become accustom to making accommodations.

I haven’t given it much thought until yesterday. Late in the afternoon, a wave a nausea hit me full force. I felt terrible. It is different than the flu or pregnancy. Its more like when you are really hot and the room has no ventilation and there is an oder that just doesn’t sit right. I broke out in a sweat and felt discombobulated or floaty. I needed to sit. When I sit I tend to nap.

After I awoke, the symptoms were still quite pronounced. It’s better today, but I am still dizzy.

I sat in some self-reflection yesterday to think about the changes I am experiencing. For starters, I have put on weight. That thing that happens when I don’t run as much….or at all. I am walking, but clearly not enough or not as far. I find time a factor lately but now that the family pressures have slowed down, I am able to get out more.

Other changes I noticed is how I dress myself. Lifting my right leg is risky if I am not using something for stability. I can still stand to put on my socks but I have to rock my foot so it does not leave the floor. ITs WAY TRICKIER than it sounds. I always try to stand to put my pants on but find myself leaning or falling over. Falling isn’t my first choice. Again, letting my right foot leave the floor without support is where I find I am failing.

My single sided deafness (SSD) is working out okay for me. Enough people now are respectful of it but I also have stopped apologizing for it. I won’t talk to people who use speaker phone, because I cannot hear you. I don’t care if you like to pace or drive when you talk to me, if I cannot hear you, I cannot communicate, so … end of story. I have also stopped worrying about missing conversation. If I need to know, someone will tell me. If I don’t need to know, I can sit on the stress free side of life. And I have to tell you, being stress free in my personal life is the best feeling in the world.

I have found peace on so many levels. I have started using Haida Art as a symbolic metaphor for my Acoustic Neuroma or perhaps as guidance as a way to reconfigure everything.

Years ago I went to the Alberta Art Gallery to see the Haida exhibit. I learned there are basic shapes both positive and negative that will repeat in a design.

It is pretty symbolic for me. The same pieces of the puzzle reconfigured into different images. Much like my daily tasks. I have the same things I need to do, but the task of doing them has changed so I need to reconfigure the task to get through my day, good bad or indifferent, the structure is the same, but the configuration is different.

Looking at my life this way lets me dwell on the positive and not the negative parts of living with Acoustic Neuroma. Each stage has had different struggles but so far I can alter things to have a positive outcome. Peace is a feeling I am not willing to compromise on any more.

I have always been drawn to the calming and repetitive nature of this art form. Traveling through the Vancouver Airport finds me lingering to admire the art pieces. This last time in January it became more, it was a realization that I needed to make changes to my structures so I can move forward with my progression. It sometimes takes me a long time to find the meaning in something that makes me pause, but when I do it, I find it was well worth the wait. I may be off my game, but my game is different now.

 

 

8 Things No One Needs to Apologize For

I am pretty angry with myself. I have let people take my happy place from me.

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What the hell was I thinking? I can do better.

I have had to protect myself from being a part of some really amazing things because the feelings associated with this are currently devastating to me. I was chatting with the hubs about people in my life who did some hurtful things and how it made me feel. He was sad for me and said “Oh no, they took it away from from you” He is right, and I am taking it back right now.

I let myself sit in the pain for a while because I have learned from experience that feeling pain is the fastest way to over come it. Then I was speaking to a friend about it and I burst into tears. I didn’t mean to. My emotions are sitting pretty close to the surface so tear leakage happens  easily at the moment. I was rewarded with their annoyance. At the time I felt apologetic for making this friend feel this way.

Then I snapped out of it. Brought myself back to my senses and thought….

WHAT THE HELL ROBYN? STOP APOLOGIZING FOR OTHER PEOPLE’s FEELINGS.

I feel this way. Period. Feelings just are. I cannot control them, but I can control the words that come out of my mouth and I am taking back that I apology.

I am not sorry. You should be sorry. You are part of the reason.

I am no longer sorry I made my friend feel awkward and annoyed. Too bad so sad. You want to be my friend? This is what happens when people hurt me. You don’t want to deal with it? Leave.

A shift happened. The sadness stopped and its like an imaginary hat pulled down low on my forehead. My eyes narrowed and now I am in the angry phase. I am owning it.

How dare I let myself be influenced this way.

Then I found this gem

8 THINGS A STRONG WOMAN SHOULD NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR

1. MAKING CHOICES AGAINST CONVENTION

Even women who consider themselves liberated from social conventions feel that they will be judged for going against the expectations that others have for women, even though that expectation has changed over time.Women make choices that are right for them and they should never apologize for that.

I made a choice that was right for me. It maybe very Canadian to apologize for it, or very female especially in a world full of men. I take back my apology and I stand by my choice. I made it for a reason and it had everything to do with the behaviour and attitudes of others. It didn’t fit with my values. I am owning my decision. I will not feel guilt. quote-amy-poehler-2

2. PUTTING HERSELF FIRST

A strong woman knows that she can’t be her best for others unless she is already at her best. By taking care of her own needs before helping her family, boss or community, she is able to do more for them.

But first she has to be healthy, financially secure, and mentally strong. Strong women don’t apologize for prioritizing their to do list with taking care of her own needs.

Men don’t, yet they seem to expect women to pander to their egos and support them when its not reciprocal. I am just as important as anyone else in the room. No one else is going to put me first – that has been proven time and again. So as with everything else, I will do this myself.irene_parlby-900x300

3. MAKING PLANS WITHOUT DEFERRING TO ANYONE

In the 1970’s a study found that prior to learning about women’s liberation, women felt the need to defer to men when making a decision. The need to ask permission of the men in their lives left them feeling resentment and anger.

About that…its called being an Adult. I no longer ask for permission, however, I do include because being exclusive is hurtful. I am not intending to be hurtful. I have learned what it is like to be excluded and funnily enough my male friends do this regularly. My women friends do not. Here is the difference,Women tend to do this: “I am  doing this – would you care to join me?” My Male friends tend to d o this: “I am doing this” Without the invitation and then are surprised when people get hurt. 5women-4

4. BEING COMFORTABLE WITH SEX
Consensual sex is healthy and natural to both men and women, but it’s only women who feel like we should hide the fact that we both have, and enjoy sex just as much as men do. A strong woman knows that she has control over her physical enjoyment and has a choice of whether or not to have a partner.

A strong woman rejects the negative labels that have been given to women who have sex frequently or outside of marriage. What she does with her body and with whomever she wants to is none of your business. 

AND a woman’s body is HERS this means you are not allowed to help yourself to it whenever the mood strikes you. Consent is key. 41355f3a2fa0f3e3ff0d0ae606aea447

5. SPEAKING HER MIND
Words have power and a strong woman uses them to her advantage to communicate effectively. Strong women should never apologize for using language to express themselves; even if that includes swearing, raising her voice or saying unpopular things.

Exactly – so fuck off, I am 48 and make my own decisions. Being the devil’s advocate because you enjoy the argument that ensues just makes me think less of you. If you actually believe your statements then you are entitled to your own opinion and we must agree to disagree. My voice is as important as your voice. So again…fuck off. 05d0ac0c0839ccf60e31c7c31b42c614

6. SAYING NO
‘No’ is a powerful word, and strong women will not apologize for using it liberally. A strong woman will decline to overextend herself so that she has more energy to devote to people and activities who are a priority.

Although it can be tempting to apologize for skipping your party, a strong woman knows that she’s not doing anything that needs your forgiveness. If you are upset that she can’t attend your event, that’s a negative emotion that you put on yourself, not something that a she has caused you to feel. Apologizing for someone else’s negative emotions is not what a strong woman will do.

Yeah…so this one is still hard for me. The new phrase in my vocabulary is “No Thank you” Still to the point and polite. Because above all else, manners elevate you.

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7. HAVING STRONG OPINIONS
A strong woman will not apologize for having and expressing her own unique thoughts, even if they are different from yours. She also has no need to apologize for holding seemingly conflicting beliefs. For example when she expects a gentleman to hold the door for her, while still expecting him to treat her as his equal.

Strong women are aware of the convention of devaluing traditional female roles and segregating gender in the workplace and they do not apologize for expressing their dissatisfaction with this. Strong women will not apologize for expecting equal pay for equal work, equal treatment by the law and evolving gender roles.

I have lost friendships over this, that is how important this is to me. I am as deserving as any man, maybe more so because I have to work harder to prove it. My wish for my daughter to is to just be equal. It is looking that her peers have grasped this concept in spite of their fathers and grandfathers or the “old boys club”. I am a proud mama of two feminists one male and one female. #sheforhe

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8. EXPECTING MORE
A strong woman has a list of accomplishments that she wants for herself but she also knows that she is capable of much more. She not only expects herself to achieve, she expects the same of others. A strong woman knows what she wants to change and how to achieve it.

A study in Psychology of Women Quarterly found that when it comes to breaking gender barriers, women’s own expectations for their success were important to their sense of achievement. Since gender discrimination still exists in the workplace, women bear a psychological and economic burden that men do not.

Amen to that. I found this is true across the board and even is found in my volunteer work. Mostly because the men feel the need to remind me of it. I don’t need reminders. Unfortunately I have to look past their shortsightedness and bring more to the table. I refuse to expect less of me. I refuse to apologize for my ideas and my efforts. However, if I am capable of more, so are you.I now expect it of you.

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Just do it.

Acoustic Neuroma Chronicles: Discombobulated

Discombobulated is a great word. It is up there with Serendipity, Halcyon and Quintessential on my favourite word list. Words are as much about meaning as they are about sounds. I retreat into words for their meaning and the way they roll of my tongue. There is a scene in Elf where Will Ferrell says, “That’s a fun word to say.” I have moments of those I share with friends who, like me, just like hearing the words roll of the tongue.

Thankfully my hearing loss is in one ear. I can still hear myself think and speak.

Sitting at my desk yesterday, I was on the phone retrieving my messages. When I finished I heard my C.O.O. talking to me. I whirled my head around and could not see him. I heard him chuckle. Finally he shook my cube’s wall and I looked up. There he was laughing at me.

I smiled and said in my under utilized Teacher Voice, ” I am deaf in this ear so sounds are always all around me but difficult to pinpoint.”

I said it for 2 reasons:

  1. To educate him
  2. To stop him from mocking

I played that card. I was pleasant and friendly but don’t laugh at anyone when they are confused. I don’t care who they are, what their skill level or disability. Laugh with someone, not at them.

I don’t enjoy that feeling of being discombobulated. It doesn’t happen with just sound. I am less dizzy lately. I think it has to do with severely reduced sugar in my system. I do think it has improved brain function. So being dizzy for several days in a row has either stopped happening or I have adjusted again. But what is new for me is the feeling of head removal.

I know, sounds weird. I don’t mean it feels like I have had my head severed, its more like my soul or inner self slides out of my body briefly.

I can sit in my chair, swivel it to talk to my team and suddenly it feels like my body moved and my inner-self stayed facing the other way. Then I snap back together. It is the oddest sensation but a million times better than chronic dizziness.

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I can sit still and this can happen at random. It is strange but never lasts for more than a few seconds.

Discombobulation is the best descriptor I can think of to describe this new sensation.

I was listening to my new favourite podcast, Modern Love . It began as a series  of essays written for a New York Times Column about relationships. Not just marriage and dating but relationships with with others, parents, children or friends. I am HOOKED.

One episode called In Darkness and in Light is the story of a woman who is going blind over her lifetime and how her husband promised her he would always be there to support her. I must admit to listening to this episode about 11 times. I feel the same things she does, only of course my life is changing through sound. We are both discombobulated. Her struggles, her fears all resonate with me. Her and I are more alike than we are different. It was comforting to hear someone speak truths and I understood. It was as if we communicated through an understanding. Neither of incapable of handling the changes, it is just sometimes it is nice not to have to explain the changes and have someone just get you.

I love it when someone remembers what side I am deaf on. Their movement is subtle but just enough so I know they remembered. It is a kindness I appreciate. Or when I lean in to hear better and they speak louder and don’t back away. I get so frustrated with soft spoken people because culturally they have been brought up not be loud. I cannot have a relationship with you that will work for me. I need to hear you to understand you because you do not communicate in other ways.

Nicole C. Kear the author of this poignant essay describes a time when her and her husband had a fight on the street on the way to a party and he left her standing there. She could find her way home but she felt abandoned. I understood that too. People get angry at me when I can’t understand what they are saying as if I can control it. I feel lost yet I know I will survive. I can figure out how to cope. But sometimes its nice to have a person in your corner who just gets it without having to direct. That becomes fatiguing. I am a leader in 90% of my life. Once in a while it is nice when someone looks after me or supports me and I don’t need to cope I can just be. Asking me “What can I do it help” is nice, but it is still me leading and directing. Just do. I notice everything and will appreciate it. Don’t wait for direction. Take initiative.

I get you Nicole and your story resonated with me in a way that I didn’t expect.

Discombobulated friends forever DFF.

Not This

We all have those voices in our lives that speak to us in a way that is completely on point. I have a few writers in my life who do this for me. Sometimes reading someone’s words can bring forth the thoughts that have been swimming in a discombobulated way in your head or can give you permission to act in a manner that you thought was right but just didn’t have the wherewithal to articulate it. 

It takes me a while to process my thoughts and feelings. While I go through this period of time, I find myself searching for the right words to justify my actions. My brain is always second guessing myself. If I listen to my inner compass, I tend to make the right choices for me. But…

I still need to process the concept with my brain so all body parts are in agreement. My heart is stupid. My brain is not. My gut or compass  gives excellent advice. When all 3 come together, I have the perfect trifecta and achieve peace. 

  
I am halfway there. I have one more choice to make. I think I know the direction I will take but I need to be sure all 3 are in the same page. The funny thing is, this time my heart is saying no, but my compass says yes. Clearly I still need time to heal before the last decision has been made.

The following is written by Elizabeth Gilbert. Her words have been consistently poignant for me.  There are many truths to her words and I find myself living in a calm and peaceful state that has been out of my reach for a long time. This alone affirms my decision was the right one for me

  

Dear Ones –
Most of us, at some point in our lives (unless we have done everything perfectly…which is: nobody) will have to face a terrible moment in which we realize that we have somehow ended up in the wrong place — or at least, in a very bad place.
Maybe we will have to admit that we are in the wrong job. Or the wrong relationship. With the wrong people around us. Living in the wrong neighborhood. Acting out on the wrong behaviors. Using the wrong substances. Pretending to believe things that we no longer believe. Pretending to be something we were never meant to be.
This moment of realization is seldom fun. In fact, it’s usually terrifying. 
I call this moment of realization: NOT THIS.
Because sometimes that’s all you know, at such a moment. 
All you know is: NOT THIS. 
Sometimes that’s all you CAN know. 
All you know is that some deep life force within you is saying, NOT THIS, and it won’t be silenced. 
Your body is saying: “NOT THIS.”
Your heart is saying: “NOT THIS.”
Your soul is saying: “NOT THIS.”
But your brain can’t bring itself to say “NOT THIS”, because that would cause a serious problem. The problem is: You don’t have a Plan B in place. This is the only life you have. This is the only job you have. This is the only spouse you have. This is the only house you have. Your brain says, “It may not be great, but we have to put up with it, because there are no other options.” You’re not sure how you got here — to this place of THIS — but you sure as hell don’t know how to get out…
So your brain says: “WE NEED TO KEEP PUTTING UP WITH THIS, BECAUSE THIS IS ALL WE HAVE.”
But still, beating like a quiet drum, your body and your heart and your soul keep saying: NOT THIS…NOT THIS…NOT THIS.

 

I think some of the bravest people I have ever met were people who had the courage to say the words, “NOT THIS” outloud — even before they had an alternative plan. 
People who walked out of bad situations without knowing if there was a better situation on the horizon. 
People who looked at the life they were in, and they said, “I don’t know what my life is supposed to be…but it’s NOT THIS.” And then they just…left.
I think my friend who walked out of a marriage after less than a year, and had to move back in with her mother (back into her childhood bedroom), and face the condemnation of the entire community while she slowly created a new life for herself. Everyone said, “If he’s not good enough for you, who will be?” She didn’t know. She didn’t know anything about what her life would look like now. But it started with her saying: NOT THIS.
I think of my friend who took her three young children away from a toxic marriage, despite that fact that her husband supported her and the kids financially…and the four of them (this woman and her three children) all slept in one bed together in a tiny studio apartment for a few years, while she struggled to build a new life. She was poor, she was scared, she was alone. But she had to listen to the voices within her that said, NOT THIS.
I think of friends who walked out of jobs — with no job waiting for them. Because they said NOT THIS.
I think of friends who quit school, rather than keep pretending that they cared about this field of study anymore. And yes, they lost the scholarship. And yes, they ended up working at a fast food restaurant, while everyone else was getting degrees. And yes, it took them a while to figure out where to go next. But there was a relief at last in just surrendering to the holy, non-negotiable truth of NOT THIS.
I think of friends who bravely walked into AA meetings and just fell apart in front of a room full of total strangers, and said, NOT THIS. 
I think of a friend who pulled her children out of Sunday School in the middle of church one Sunday because she’d had it with the judgment and self-righteousness of this particular church. Yes, it was her community. Yes, it was her tribe. But she physically couldn’t be in that building anymore without feeling that she would explode. She didn’t know where she was going, spiritually or within her community, but she said, NOT THIS. And walked out. 
Rationally, it’s crazy to abandon a perfectly good life (or at least a familiar life) in order to jump into a mystery. No sane person would advise you to make such a leap, with no Plan B in place. We are supposed to be careful. We are supposed to be prudent.
And yet….
And yet. 
If you keep ignoring the voices within you that say NOT THIS, just because you don’t know what to do, instead…you may end up stuck in NOT THIS forever. 
You don’t need to know where you are going to admit that where you are standing right now is wrong. 
The bravest thing to say can be these two words. 
What comes next?
I don’t know. You don’t know. Nobody knows. It might be worse. It might be better. But whatever it is…? It’s NOT THIS. 
ONWARD,

LG

Grow up already

 

I was told by a former friend who broke up with me this year that I must be really immature. Wait…what?

I have friends who I spend time with ages ranging from 18-94. I always looked at that as a strength. I could fit in and have fun with people from all cross sections of life. According to this guy, it was a weakness and I should be spending time with people my own age. I guess that meant sad, drunk, middle-agers were off my list. I still think I would be considered middle age because 48 + 48 = 96. My great Grandmother lived until she was 99. Both my grandmothers are 94 and 89 respectively, chances are if all goes well, I will live at least that long.

I don’t want to restrict my friendships to those who are only 48. Have you met many 48 year olds? Some are dead boring. It is a slim demographic to choose from and gone are the days that I have anything in common with friends from high school other than we went to school together and have common memories. I cannot build a deep connection on age.

I build deep connections on commonalities.

doctor-who-river-series-8There is a side of me that is tremendously geeky. I love superheroes, science fiction and obscure pop culture. I particularly embrace the bad-ass female heroes like Black Widow, Jessica Jones, River Song and Electra. These women are strong, smart and have relationships that enhance their being, not because they need one in their life.

There is a side of me that loves Hockey. I love the smell of a puck, the coolness of the rink and the sound of the thwack when the stick hits the puck. It excites me and it depresses me. I admire fan loyalty, be true to your team! and I enjoy the energy of the crowd. The commonality of cheering for a team is one of camaraderie that is lost in other areas of my life. I love being on a winning or losing side, because we are in it together.

There is a side of me that practices the Tao of Muppets. It isn’t a mainstream religion or Kermit-two1occult practice but it teaches humanity. Every single movie, tv episode, short or ad portrays The Muppets as a group of beings who embrace the difference in others. In fact, that is what makes individuals unique. Muppets are not haters or racists they are peaceful and loving. I appreciate this attitude. I want to surround myself with others who embrace this attitude as well. Not all 48 year olds do, but lots of Millennials do. I admire that quality. I want friends who don’t try to poke holes in people who announce their sexual orientation. Who understand that trauma is just that, trauma and people who have had traumatic experiences don’t need to have someone picking at their scabs. I want to be with people who understand that Women’s Issues are hard to understand if you are a White Privileged Male. Empathy is good, criticism feels crappy. Acceptance is preferred.

25893709There is a side of me that thinks books are an opening into another realm. Quote literature and I am impressed, quote movies and I think you have a good memory but don’t expect me to follow your reference. I don’t work that way. I am a reader. I have read 20 book since January 1, 2016. That means I have not watched many movies or TV shows because I learn far more from reading than I do from watching. I think its great that you spend your free time doing what you like to do, I spend my free time reading because that is what I like to do. I love the way a line from a book will resonate with me and linger for years. I have a notebook filled with impactful quotes from books such as Steve Martin’s Shop Girl, David Leviathan’s Everyday, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Elizabeth Strout’s My name is Lucy Barton. I will read these over and over because they resonate with me and make me feel as if I am not alone in my thoughts. There is another person out there who is the same. Because feeling like you belong somewhere is important. It helps give your life meaning and purpose.

IMG_0579There is a side to me that enjoys fine wine. Not to drink until I cannot think, but because the taste and craftsmanship is exquisite. Understanding the process of how it became to be. Learning how it enhances the food I eat. Appreciating the beauty that it is. Sharing wine in a meaningful way brings me closer to friends who appreciate it in the same way. The relaxing way a glass of wine can define an evening is delightful.

images-7There is a side of me that loves to visit the Art Gallery. Looking at the works of people who came before me who displayed their raw emotion on the canvas in from of me moves in a way that other genres just don’t. I can feel the emotion that went into so works and I am moved to tears by others. This brings a connection that has me thinking about lives and commonalities. How the past and future collide with sameness. I love meeting people in the galleries and discussing the works of artists. Other points of view are uplifting and poignant.

There is a side of me that understands the need to run. I love the feeling it gives and the Me an my angelside benefits. I love the familiar faces you see race after race. I love the openness of my lungs after running on a cool crisp or even cold day. I love spending my time with people talking about races and events they want to do or have done. I even understand why people need running teams and need to train with others. I do not prefer this, but I sure understand this. I love the independence of running. I have never enjoyed team sports. Get me alone on a path with my pup and let my mind run free. To me this is one of the best feelings and I miss it.

There is a side of me who thinks it is important to either work in a job that makes impactful changes on the world we live in or give of your free time do make a difference. Being kind, helping others and supporting people who need a hand up will change you life in ways you can not imagine. Working with like-minded individuals on a common goal is so rewarding when it sees the light. This feeds my soul.

There is a side of me who thinks Family First needs to be a way of life. My heart breaks for children and animals who have been neglected by adults in their life who cannot do better or choose not to do better. If I could I would round up all children and animals who need to feel the hug of a loving mom and move them to a farm and hug them all the time. So in an effort or do the best I can, I rescued my puppy. I volunteer my time to support children and families. I used to work with children and families who needed support, but PTSD is a real affliction when you work with trauma cases for years. For my well being I removed myself because I could no longer see myself. I need to feel strong before I can do more. So now I work in my hobby and I volunteer where society needs me. This is a better mental health fit for me.

Looking over my list of who I am, I can honestly say these areas are not exclusive to 48 year olds. I have diverse interests and because of this, I have a diverse range of friends. I hardly think this means I am immature, quite the opposite. I am not the square peg that fits into the square hole. You might not understand this yet, but you will eventually.

 

Acoustic Neuroma Chronicles: Sounds of Silence

I was out for a walk with my pup this week and was overwhelmed with sound. My normal day has me turning my head head to hear better. I am completely deaf in my left ear. The tumour has severed the nerve. I have been told this is a permanent situation. Even if the tumour is removed, I will never gain my hearing back.

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Take your thumb and forefinger and rub them together beside your ear. My left one hears nothing. My right ear thinks that is a crazy loud sound. When I had my hearing tested I have zero hearing in the left but the right ear is blessed with better than normal hearing. Does it average out? Sure?

I experience a lack of sound depth. It is difficult to tell where sounds are coming from – I hear them all around me but cannot pinpoint the vibrations. Layer that on multiple levels of sound building on each other and I am lost. Put me in a group or stadium setting and I haven’t got a clue as to what is going on. I rely heavily on watching people talk. I can usually pickout their words when I focus on their lip movements. Unless you are my dad, then forget it. He covers his mouth or moves his head so I cannot watch him speak. The tone of his voice is at a pitch I cannot hear. Communicating with him is difficult in a group, but get him on the phone and I can hear everything. That alone is unusual. I have a really hard time on phones. Put it on speaker and I have to focus so hard that I end the conversation with a headache. Communication is hard. I prefer email or text.

Get me outside, walk beside me and I cannot hear what you are saying even if you are on my right side. The layers of birds, traffic, wind, leaves, people and your voice leaves me missing half the conversation. My motto has become “Smile and Wave” but I do it in the voice of the Penguin from some animated movie where the penguins are running covert operations …. I have no idea what movie that is, but that voice!

People at work come up from behind me and start talking. I have no idea what they are saying. Then they realize I can’t hear them and they shake my chair. “Well Hello! How long have you been standing there?”

I sometimes think I should apologize but everyone knows I cannot hear. So why am I apologizing? I love it best when people get angry at me for not hearing what they are saying and have to repeat it. Pro Tip: Speak louder or look at me and I will not ask you to repeat yourself more than once.

It is interesting to me that of all the symptoms I live with, this is the one that doesn’t bother me in the least. It bothers other people immensely. I am not sure why. I am perfectly fine with reduced hearing. There is a ringing or sound in my ear that I live with. Some people are driven mad by this sound, It doesn’t phase me. I was asked once what it sounds like.

Remember the old Tube TVs? That buzzing or humming sound when it warmed used? That is the base sound. Add another hight pitched tone like the TV Test Pattern, but higher. Then sprinkle wind chimes on top of that. With all that noise in my head, I don’t doubt why it is hard to hear you speak to me.

When I went for a walk in the park this week, I could hear birds. I looked in the direction I thought they were coming from and saw nothing. I could hear the noise of the traffic and it felt like cars were circling me. I could hear dogs bark and kids laugh and a lawn mower. I could only tell where the lawn mower was located. I paid close attention to the sounds of my world. I suppose people assume my world is quiet, but it is far from silent.

There is White Noise in my head all the time. The bonus of this hearing loss is sleeping on my right side, I hear nothing but the sounds that are in my head. This pleasant side-effect means and quiet restful sleep.

Not everything about this tumour is terrible. There is a silver lining in everything.

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Yuge!

I was scrolling through my feed today and came across two very different posts from women friends of long ago whom I still admire greatly.

One has always been afraid of living huge (YUGE! with a Scottish dialect) and she has found herself taking risks and trying out new things in pursuit of her dreams and goals. I am excited for her. She has so much laid out in front of her that is ripe for the picking. The other has always lived huge, not afraid of risks and trying new things. She has had to pull back and cocoon her family. Nurture them and care for them at the expense of her goals. I love this about her. Her life is intertwined with her family, therefore she is holding them close.

Both women are strong, brilliant feminists.

I have been so inspired by both these women. They have embraced the fear and made positive choices because the need is greater than the fear.

I have been licking my wounds lately. There is something so peaceful about pulling back, reflecting and taking that quiet moment before moving forward.

Fear is a powerful deterrent.

Fear is a huge obstacle.

It is getting in my way of moving forward.

I am in the processes of figuring out some things, like if the current trajectory I am on is the best for me. There are things I really like about it but currently there are things I dislike about it more. So is it worthwhile still pursuing?

That is the thing about goals. I feel the need to see them through, I hate quitting. But if it doesn’t feel right and is stressful, is it worthwhile? Will the feeling of accomplishment be worth it in the end when the people you are working with have a very different point of view? Will we meet the end goal in just a different way than we first thought? Maybe.

I miss living huge.

I have done so many amazing things and my last amazing thing put in a place where I have to pull back on the huge part. I ran out of money to do huge. By no means is money the part that gives a huge meaning to my life, it just really helped with checking off the bucket list items.

I think my problem is I do not have a goal in front of me that I feel like pursuing. That is a big deal. I have not lived with a goal in front of me for 6 years. I feel lost.

There was a time where physical goals were my focus. That has changed to some degree. I have been given the green light to pursue a 5km. Something I am not all that sure I care very much about other than it is important for my health to keep moving. I have lost my mojo towards it. I am sure it has something to do with the fear of the excruciating pressure that builds up in my brain when I do this. So for now, walking is lovely, but it doesn’t feel like an accomplishment.

Education was a huge goal for me. I still think I want to go further in pursuit of Women in Leadership. But that takes cash that I cannot ask my family for.  I can always go back. This one will wait for me. Universe…when you have some spare cash laying around, throw it my way so I can go to Royal Roads please.

Career goals. My career is on track, I quite like what I do and the people I work with. It doesn’t keep me up at night and it is diverse enough to keep me entertained without boredom. What more could someone ask for? Oh right, a raise…. A raise would help with my lack of cash issue. But as quality of life goes, it is pretty darn great.

Family goals. I finally feel like I can worry less about my children and let them figure out their stuff. My son complained to me that I was “too chill” and I let him be too independent when he wanted to be held closer. Well, sorry? I knew independence was best for him AND me in the long run, so that is what I did. We had major bumps along the road but he is standing on his own two feet currently. Sure I will catch him if he needs me too, but right now, it is sweet relief that he is well sorted and on his way. My daughter is not too far behind, she has goals laid out before her and is in hot pursuit of them. I worry about her much less than her brother because she also communicates very well and I know what is going on with her. She is golden.

House goals. My house is in need of some TLC. Paint, flooring, furniture and a roof. I will paint it this summer. Bring it back into its former glory. Then perhaps sell it, or not. I don’t want to live in the burbs. But I am not so sure I want to live in this city either. This is where I feel restless. I feel like I am in limbo and get resistance from other members of my family when I bring up the subject of moving.

Friendship goals. I started a book club because I am searching for intellectual conversation about fictional worlds and how they relate to the world around us. This is a good substitute for the Education I am wanting. I am also on the lookout for a book club of strangers – perhaps at my local bookshop. I want to discuss books, not participate in social events. I don’t want to get too close to more people, but I want to hear what they think. This may be a tall order. People in my experience tend to get emotional and social at these kinds of events. Emotional discourse fatigues me. I have “cleaned house” of the people who have me sitting in anger. I don’t want that for my life. I want peace. I want to stop hurting every time I go do something that is supposed to be fun.  Perhaps I am not cut out for lots of people in my life. I do prefer the company of silence. But I know I am self-destructive too. When something cuts to the quick, I am dump it and fast. Maybe I need more of the same rather than different. Finding people who share the same values as me is harder than I thought. I value Loyalty, Kindness, Respect and Honesty. I give these and expect them in return. I am shocked and disgusted with the political discourse in the United States. Why is being kind and respectful such a hard thing for people?

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So this leaves me no closer with my want of HUGE. I feel like I am treading water trying to find land.

I think perhaps if I fill my life with structure the goals may manifest before me.

  • I will set aside Sunday Mornings for time with my writing. It is painful right now, I have got to the part where there is conflict and it makes me cry as I write it down. I think this is the best I have ever written so the emotional strife I am feeling is worth it.
  • I will set time aside on Saturdays to explore my world with my pup. I am a better human to live with when I ground myself in the parks of Edmonton. I will visit every River Valley Park this summer. Apparently there are 20, that is a good start. Maybe I will reinstate the traditional Family Picnic we used to do every Friday night.
  • One closet at a time. I need to simplify, I am going to purge one closet/cupboard/storage at a time until my world is free of clutter. This always makes me sleep better. I want to be minimalist where my family is not. Today I will tackle the space under the sink.

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Like it or not, I now have 3 goals laid out before me. The meditative tasks of two of them will likely help me figure out how to live large once again. Pulling back and focusing on smaller pursuits may be just what I need after my large adventure of last year. It should help with the big obstacle of fear standing in my way. Thank you my friends for being such lovely inspiration.